In college, students meet many people and forge meaningful connections with some that last beyond graduation. It is called networking, and it involves building genuine relationships with people who share your interests and goals. It provides more meaningful connections than just giving someone your business card or adding them on LinkedIn. These connections benefit a student’s future, and we aim to show you why you need them and offer some tips on how to network.
Why Is Networking Important?
Building a good professional network in college offers many opportunities in the future. Networking helps you build a wide circle that will help you through exposure and career opportunities. The great thing about networking is that it never stops; you’ll do it beyond college and after retirement. So, why is it so important?
Helps Develop Strong Industry Links
Networking involves building trust and sharing info, knowledge, and contacts. As a result, when you link with other individuals in your field, you stand to help each other through advice or opportunities. Moreover, you can strengthen these relations by helping your contacts when they need it so that they’ll be more inclined to return the favor when you require it.
Advances Students’ Careers
Establishing contacts with professionals makes you stand out. So attend multiple networking events to gain as many professional contacts as possible. They will help you with work opportunities and provide useful insight from their experiences.
Grants You Multiple Mentors
A career mentor is a valuable tool, and networking is the best way to find one. You can find a career mentor in college, and they should help you with advice and even support even after graduation. However, finding mentors who will tick all your boxes or always be available when needed is complex. So, having multiple mentors who can help with different needs is best.
Helps Develop Social Skills
Your social skills are crucial for your future, especially if your career mostly involves dealing with other people, such as careers in commerce and healthcare. Connecting with other students helps you become comfortable in communication, an ability that’ll serve you during interviews and in your profession.
Exposes You to New Ideas and Viewpoints
College connections will serve you even while in school. When you struggle with creativity or coming up with ideas, your colleagues can help you by offering new perspectives you didn’t consider. In addition, they can help you brainstorm ideas; make sure you’re also willing to offer ideas when they need them.
Boosts Job Prospects
Knowing more people in your field increases your chances of knowing someone who knows about an opening somewhere. Since you’ll have developed a good rapport with them, they might even vouch for you if they know the employer. Currently, a significant percentage of professional jobs are filled through personal links. So networking can help you land your first job, switch careers and help you identify and move to better positions.
How to Network in College
Networking involves actively seeking out interactions with people with similar interests, something not within many people’s comfort zones. However, since it is crucial, students have to learn how to do it to reap the rewards, just like an essay writer learns new skills to become a better writer. So here’re some practical tips.
Many students wait until their final year to begin networking, which shouldn’t be the case. So you need to start as early as possible. For one, people are more inclined to help younger individuals and will be more willing to offer advice. You’ll also get to build a good rapport over the years.
Starting to network and ask for job leads when graduation is looming puts unwanted pressure on the contacts. So, start forging connections early so they are comfortable and eager to help in the long run.
Internships and Part-Time Jobs
Internships, part-time employment, and faculty assistant positions are suitable for providing experience but are better at developing connections. Internships offer an excellent opportunity to meet people and access a world of professional contacts.
Join Clubs, Fraternities, and Sororities
Find networking opportunities through events that are related to your field of study. These present the best place to meet people pursuing your area of interest. The university’s career center plans such events, so you might want to remove them from your email spam folder.
You can also create networks through clubs, sororities, and fraternities, but these will feature people across different fields, which is also okay.
Create a Solid LinkedIn Presence
LinkedIn is currently the largest professional networking platform; every collegian should be on it. However, you can also find other alternatives and create a presence there too. Such platforms allow you to find and interact with professionals in your ‘dream profession,’ especially those you wouldn’t meet under normal circumstances.
Be active on LinkedIn and set some targets. For example, you can aim for 50 connections by the end of your first year. Keep that up, and you’ll have hundreds come graduation.
Leverage Your Personal Connections
So, your family member has a friend whose brother is a doctor, and you’re in the same field? That’s a connection you can leverage. Family members, friends, neighbors, and colleagues can provide access to great connections. Furthermore, they will be easier to establish since the relationship is already there. It’s much easier to shift a conversation to careers, unlike with a stranger. You can also leverage connections of people you want to stay in touch with.
Keep Existing Connections Alive
There would be no point in getting connections if you cannot retain them. So, work towards growing the existing connections by staying in touch and helping them when needed. They will be helpful when you need referrals or letters of recommendation.
Networking is a great tool, and you have to trust that it will help you in the future. For example, getting a job after college is much easier with some valuable connections. However, remember that connections are transactional relationships, so you cannot expect too much from people or receive without giving back.