Network, Network, Network…as students we hear this all the time from our bosses, our professors, and our parents. What is Networking anyways? Merriam Webster defines networking as “the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups or institutions” specifically for “the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business”. Expanding on this definition, I consider networking not only for employment purposes but as a channel for learning and development. Many individuals network to establish a mentor or to expand their skill set. Here is a list of ways to start networking as a student.
- Get to know your classmates. The classmates you sit next to every day are going to be in the workforce one day are going to achieve a multitude of different things. The individuals you associate yourself with now maybe your colleagues in the future.
- Connect with alumni. Similar to connecting with current classmates, former students of your university are able to relate to your experience and are likely to be interested in giving back and offer support to their alma mater.
- Meet with the Career Office. Each university has resources dedicated to assisting students with their career development. This office typically assists with resume reviews, mock interviews, and career guidance such as job opportunities, career exploration, and may be able to connect you with employers or alumni.
- Attend networking events. There is no better place to network than at professional development event such as a seminar, conference, or career fair. By joining a student organization or society can meet others who have similar interests to you.
- Lastly, consider each day a networking opportunity with the people around you. You never know who you may connect with or establish a relationship in your everyday life!
Additional Tip: Use social media such as LinkedIn as a way to display your professional brand and stay in touch with the people in your network.
Of course, this list is not exhaustive of all the ways that you can network but as the wise Mark Twain once said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”