With each passing day, the job market gets more competitive. Many recent graduates enter the business world with barely any connections to further their career goals. For students currently in college, building a network has become essential if they want to land a post-graduation job offer.
College is the perfect time to start networking, as most schools offer multiple opportunities to do so. By building a strong network now, you’ll improve your chances of getting your dream job after graduation.
If you want to be successful, start planting the seeds now by maintaining regular contact with people working at your dream companies. This is the best way to show resolve and excitement for your future chosen profession.
These five methods will help you expand your network while in college.
1. Remember Names
We often forget how important it is to remember people’s names, especially when we meet a lot of new contacts. However, this act is key to developing strong relationships.
If you find it difficult to remember people’s names, use tricks such as repeating their name 10-15 times to yourself, picturing that you’re writing the name down, or writing the name down on a notepad or smartphone. Like with everything else, repetition and practice make perfect–so don’t get discouraged if it takes a while before remembering starts becoming effortless.
Make sure to get a business card at the first meeting so that you have all of their information including their name, company, and contact info. This will be extremely helpful in trying to remember who they are. If you want to remember the conversation better, you can write down details about it on the back of the card. This includes their role in the company and other points from your discussion that seemed important.
2. There’s No Shame In Using Your Parents’ Friends
You would be surprised how easy it is to ask your parents if they have any friends who work in the industry you want to get into. Many people believe that there is a sense of humiliation involved with contacting those connections and asking for their assistance, but let us tell you–there isn’t.
If you know someone in the industry you want to enter, why would you let a silly social stigma stop you from asking for their help? In most cases, they’ll be happy or even honored to assist your progress. All we’re saying is that there’s nothing to lose by asking – it can only help, never hurt.
Asking if a company has any open positions might seem like the logical first step, but simply talking to someone about their experiences and listening to advice could be more beneficial in your job search. You never know–even if they don’t have any openings, they could refer you to another company that is hiring.
3. Take Advantage Of Networking Nights
If you know which industry you want to go into, seek out colleges that have networking nights with recruiters specific to your field of interest. This is an opportunity to learn about different companies and any job openings they may have. Many colleges offer on-campus interviews, which can result in a job or internship. If you’re anxious about interviewing, see if your school has a ‘success center,’ where they usually conduct mock interviews. It would be beneficial to investigate the resources your college provides.
If you want to network with people in your industry, see if any student-run organizations are setting up networking nights for your specific major. If not, look into other clubs or local opportunities that could help connect you with relevant professionals.
Networking nights are not only great examples of how to engage with future employers professionally but also perfect opportunities to practice your elevator pitch. Dressing for success is key in any powerful business meeting or encounter, so take advantage of these college events to get some experience under your belt.
4. LinkedIn Is Your Best Friend
If you’re a student and not on LinkedIn, you’re missing out. Many recruiters use LinkedIn to find interns, so it’s becoming increasingly necessary to have a profile even before graduation. Joining professional groups, networking, and staying informed about your industry will not only benefit you in your current position but also set you up for future success.
LinkedIn is a powerful tool that can help you find your dream job. You can follow companies you’re interested in, get updates when they post new positions, connect with executives and recruiters, and keep track of the people you know. On the site, there is a section for users to search and apply for any jobs or internships that might be interesting or relevant.
If you’re a student and are not spending time focusing on developing your profile and networking, you’re likely missing out on potential opportunities. After all, if an employer were to check it out and find that it’s either nonexistent or vague, that wouldn’t make for a very strong first impression. If you invest half the time you use on Facebook scrolling aimlessly into building a LinkedIn profile, think about how much better off you’ll be.
5. Internships Are Crucial
One of the most underrated benefits of an internship is that it allows you to gain first-hand experience in the industry you’re passionate about. In addition, you have the opportunity to network with professionals who may be able to land you a job or recommend you for another one.
Having an internship is not only a great way to get ahead in the job hunting competition, but for many positions, it’s a mandatory requirement just to score an interview. To feel confident in your abilities, employers want you to have previous experience with the job they’re hiring you for. For many entry-level positions, companies expect applicants to know the basics before they even apply.
Internships are a way to get a glimpse into the lives of those who have made it in your desired field. This will help you make sure that this is the right industry for you, and give you a sense of what real-world expectations are like compared to your current visions.
As a college student, how do you build your network? Please let us know in the comments!