Whether you’re getting a college degree to start a new career or transition into a new one, these networking tips for college students can jump start your efforts. You don’t have to wait until graduation to begin your networking – as a matter of fact, the earlier you start, the better your chances are of getting that dream job sooner.
Networking Opportunities On & Off Campus
Many students just don’t know where, or how to start networking. They could be introverts, juggling work and school, or overwhelmed with how to act at networking events. The good news is, there’s plenty of networking college students can do that have nothing to do with actual networking events.
Here are six that are very successful:
- On-campus/student organizations – Sororities, fraternities, volunteer and shared interest organizations and recreational activities are just a few opportunities to network with professors, advisors and other students. You never know what doors will open up just by joining the intramural archery team, a college chorus group or student environmental organizations. By making friends and connections with common interests, networking becomes that much easier.
- Part-time jobs – whether you’re caddying at a local golf course, working in a bookstore or serving drinks, people you meet may know of opportunities for you to find an open door to the job or career you want. Talk informally to customers and other employees and take a real interest in them and see what develops.
- Volunteer opportunities – perhaps you volunteer at a wildlife rehabilitation center, and you want to teach environmental education – chances are, you’ll run across someone who either is directly involved, or knows someone who is, and can make an introduction for you.
- Family/friends – believe it or not, your family and friends could be just the boost you need to start a new career. Make sure everyone in your personal network knows your career goals. Remember, people want to be helpful – it makes them happy to see you shine in the dream career you start with their help.
- Cold calling/emailing – it’s scary to think of contacting strangers and asking them for help or advice, but if you don’t make the effort, you’ll never know. Start out by contact professors at your college or university you’ve not met, but who might be helpful. Use business networking sites like LinkedIn to research people at companies or in industries you’re interested in. If you send out 50 requests, and get back just one that pays off, that makes the effort worthwhile.
- Informational interviews – this is an activity that’s been around for a long time, and pays off more often than not. By requesting an informational interview to just learn more about the career field you’re interested in opens door for future opportunities. The other great thing about doing interviews simply to learn more may lead you to understand that perhaps this job or career really isn’t for you after all.
Five More Networking Tips For College Students
These final five networking tips are just as important for you to do to start a new career after graduating:
- Clean up your social media profile – if your social media profiles contain questionable behavior, delete those activities. Be aware that once you make contact with an organization, often the first thing someone does is plug your name into various social media sites. So, if you’re proud of your ability to empty a keg, remove that activity.
- Dress the part – don’t show up to meet someone, whether formally or informally, wearing clothes that are suitable for recreational activities. Search your local thrift store for business appropriate attire at a fraction of the cost in retail stores, but be sure that what you wear represents the part or job you are looking for.
- Practice good personal awareness – you want to make a good impression, so be sure how you present yourself is the way you want to be perceived.
- Learn to listen – it’s tempting to tell others while networking everything you’re looking for, but sometimes you gain so much more just by listening first. Practice listening to other people and really hearing what they say, then respond. When asked what you’re looking for, that’s the time to tell her why you’re out networking.
- Create business cards – with all the cost effective business card websites on the internet, get cards printed with your basic contact information. Don’t be tempted to make a splashy card that has a busy design. It could make your contact information hard to read. Be conservative with your design and layout.
You can network your way to a new career while still attending college. By using as many of these tips as possible, you’ll soon have opportunities you might not have otherwise found.
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