Posts Tagged ‘how to network’
You’ve probably heard before that to make it in the professional world, it’s not always about what you know, but who you know. Making connections is important in today’s job market. But how can you make these connections when you’re still in school? It’s not as hard as you might think. Check out these tips on how you can network, even as a busy college student!
Just about every college has at least one career fair each semester, and you don’t have to be on the cusp of graduation to attend. Right at the tips of your fingers, on your own college campus, you have the chance to meet your future employers. Stop by the tables you’re interested in, introduce yourself, and try to make a solid impression. Once you have their contact information, you can start building a relationship by sending them an email within 48 hours thanking them for their time, and asking some follow up questions. They might answer the questions themselves, or they might direct you to someone else who can further help you. The more correspondence you have, the better your connection will be! This can be the doorway to a job, an internship, or just some professional advice!
Meetings with Alumni
Colleges keep meticulous track of their alumni. Often times, schools have records open to their students with information regarding who graduated with what major, where they’re living, what they’re doing today, and how you can contact them. This is a goldmine of connections! Find a few people in your area who graduated a few years ago, or perhaps many years ago, with a career you would love to have! While sending them an email or giving them a call may seem a bit scary, chances are, they’ll be more flattered than anything! Who wouldn’t want to grab a cup of coffee with someone who admires what they do?
Internships and Summer Jobs
If you’re lucky enough to score an internship or a summer job that relates to your field, get to know as many people as you can, as well as you can. Make a good impression. Ask a lot of questions. Demonstrate your knowledge and interest for your field. When your summer or internship ends, make sure that you keep in touch. Even if you decide that where you worked or interned isn’t exactly what you want to do, these people might have the ability to point you in the direction of where you want to go!
Don’t forget that you can also make connections completely on your own without having to attend a fair or land an internship. If there’s a company you’re just dying to work for someday, send someone from that company an email. If there’s a person you greatly admire for their achievements, take it upon yourself to make contact with them. It’s truly that easy! Even if you don’t hear back, the possibility of starting a relationship that could get you a dream job is a risk worth taking!
You might be asking yourself, what exactly is networking? It seems to be a term that just popped up in the last decade, and now its an option for what you’re “looking for” on Google+, and your professors are stressing its importance!
Truth is, networking has existed for a long, long time. It’s essentially a fancy term meaning developing connections with those around you who have the potential to help you out. The people you network with become something between an acquaintance and a friend–a process of “professional friend-making,” so to speak. In today’s society, where most jobs and other major opportunities are found through someone you know, networking is very important, and the best time to start is now. Not sure how to go about networking, or what networking can do for you? Check out these tips for more information.
Creating Networks for Knowledge
One of the benefits of networking is the ability to obtain and share new information with one another for the purpose of everyone becoming more educated on a subject. You could start a Facebook group for freshmen biology majors, and lead discussion forums with other students all over the country. You could put yourself in touch with someone a few years older than you who has completed work in an area you want to know more about. Through networking, you will find that you have a more well-rounded education, and perhaps a more in-depth education than what you might learn from your college courses.
Creating Networks for Support
When you have a network of other people with a common interest or goal, you are creating a support system that you can rely on. Generally, the people you connect with will want you to succeed. They will be there for you if you have a question. They will give you words of encouragement should you fail. You could be an aspiring artist, and connect with other aspiring artists at your school or around the world with your prime goal being to “make it!” With all of you rooting for one another, you will have the motivation to keep going, and the comfort of knowing that everyone fails, but not everyone gives up!
Creating Networks for Opportunities
By networking with your classmates, employers, alumni, and other successful individuals in your field, you are opening yourself up to fantastic career opportunities. Think about it: if you’re working part time at a coffee shop over summer, and your boss is looking to hire a few more people for your shift, immediately into your mind pops your jobless, coffee-loving friend. Within days, your friend is working at your side. That’s how it works in the real world, too! By connecting with others who have the ability to lend you a hand someday, you are far more likely to be given opportunities throughout your college career as well as out in the real world. Start making these connections now!
Entering your college years is like stepping into a vortex of fun, fatigue and the constant search for that perfect internship.
College, being your first real taste of independence will, for most people, be fun. And, for most people, the delicate balance of academics and procrastination will turn you into a zombie. But even truer a constant than these two collegiate states of existence is the fact that you’ll feel like Frodo Baggins on an epic mission to track down that dream of an internship before anybody else snatches it.
The perfect student internship could be the gateway to your dream job after graduation.
So, how do you get a hold of a great summer internship?
While there’s no such thing as a “bad” internship, one that has a little something to do with your interests and career goals might be the place to start. After that, you’ll want to look up.
Networking may seem like an intimidating process, but it’s easier than you think. Talk to parents, professors, friends of the family, anybody with a few good years on you whose role in the working world you admire. Let them know what type of internship you’re interested in, and ask them if they have any colleagues or friends they can put you in contact with. Remember, it’s called “Networking” because it doesn’t just stop at one contact–if that were the case it would be called “Lining.” One new contact can lead to a, ahem, NETWORK, of other contacts you could and should reach out to.
- Treat all people with whom you come in contact with respect, courtesy and professionalism
- Don’t put off getting in touch with a contact if you can’t see the direct effect it might have for your internship search
When it comes to “reaching out,” you want to tread carefully. For example, sending a mass email to all of your contacts at once is poor form. Instead, keep the email personal and concise. If you are contacting a person you’ve never spoken to before, clarify in the subject line how you know them and what you might be looking for. For example: “Given your name by Al Bundy” or “Referred by: Peggy Bundy. Seeking Career Advice.”
People’s email get overloaded with spam and bad jokes, so make sure that your email stands out with brevity and clarity.
Within your email, introduce yourself with a brief bio and what you are looking to do (long-term). Avoid write out your entire resume at all costs. Think more along the lines of 1-2 sentences. Also, don’t email a person blindly. Do some research about their company to prove your genuine interest. Do not ask for a job. I repeat: Do not ask for a job. That part is understood and if the contact wants to help you, they will follow up with either an internship opportunity or another person to contact.
Sometimes, you won’t get a response at all. In that case, brush your shoulders off and move on.
- Ask for advice or any other questions you might have about the company, the internship, the contact’s experience
- Carefully edit your emails for spelling errors. Your computer’s spell-check is not infallible.
- Don’t assume the contact will help you
- Don’t demand the contact to help you
Always, always, always thank the people who help you. No matter how far along they get you–whether to an interview or just answering a basic question about their line of work–say “thank you.” Sending an email 24-48 hours after your meeting, interview or informational session will keep you in their minds and let them know that you’re a courteous person. Nobody wants to work with a jerk. So if you’re a jerk, a congenial thank you email can be a helpful disguise.
Thank you “DO’s”:
- Remind the contact who you are
- Make a connection to how your skills would help their company
Thank you “DON’Ts”:
- Don’t send a “Thanks for nothin’” email
- Don’t send a sob story about why you need this internship
The best piece of advice we can give you is to go at your internship search with an open mind. You never know what you might find to fill your summer.
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