Networking to Success
As a college student, networking may seem like a daunting task. The thought of meeting new people and putting yourself out there can be overwhelming especially if it seems like everyone has more experience than you. However, networking is an essential skill that will lead to success in your future career. Personally, every job I have ever gotten I got because of networking and putting myself out there. So below are five tips for networking that have worked for me that will help you build professional relationships while still being authentic to yourself.
Start Small and Set Measurable Goals
If you've never actively networked before, it's best to start with small, measurable goals that push you just slightly outside of your comfort zone. A great place to start is by connecting with your professors. Stay after class or arrive early, attend office hours, and ask them about their industry experience. By doing so, you can gain valuable insights and make a personal connection with someone in your field of interest!
Define Your Networking Goals
Before diving into networking, take some time to define why you want to expand your network. Is it to land that sweet summer internship or job, gain a better understanding of the professional world, or something else? Knowing your goals will help you stay focused and make meaningful connections that align with your interests and aspirations.
Attend Events, Both In-person and Virtual
Attending events is a great way to meet new people and expand your network. Look out for events organized by the university or organizations like the Marketing Association. I have met so many people at Marketing Association events that have helped me develop both personally and professionally! Attend these events with an open mind, be curious, and be ready to engage with others. If you can't attend many events in person, look for virtual or hybrid events. The important thing is you are making an active effort to meet new people!
Be Transparent and Maintain Relationships
Networking is not just about making connections, but also about maintaining them over time. When networking, be transparent about your goals and intentions. Let people know that you are interested in building a relationship and learning from them. Don't approach networking with the sole intention of getting something out of it. Remember, relationships take time to develop, and maintaining them requires effort. Keep in touch with your contacts with something as simple as commenting on their LinkedIn posts!
Know Your Worth as a College Student
As a college student, you may feel like you have nothing to offer when networking. However, you bring a unique perspective, fresh ideas, and a willingness to learn. Don't be afraid to showcase your strengths and ask for opportunities. Remember, you are an asset to any organization, and your contributions are valuable. Companies need new people constantly and they spend lots of time and energy into recruiting talented students like you!
All of these tips may not be something you implement immediately or exactly as I have described them. However, it’s important to remember that although intimidating networking is a crucial skill to have no matter your major. Start small, define your goals, attend events, be transparent, maintain relationships, and know your worth!
If there is one thing to take away from this blog, remember to stay true to yourself and approach networking with a willingness to learn. Hopefully with these tips in mind, you'll be on your way to networking to success!