Over the course of your life, your personality, thoughts, and viewpoints are dramatically shaped by the people that you meet and the experiences that you have. At some points, the opportunities you have to network are better than others.
College is one of these times and is actually one of the most important and influential of them all. Not only are you in a unique position to leverage connections, but you’re also open to new ideas and ready to learn.
Here’s why it’s so important to network in college.
The benefits of networking in college
Building a strong personal network is important at any stage of your life. It’s key for career as well as personal development, and college is an excellent place to learn how to do it. Learning how to network while you’re in college can help you to find an internship or even a job after you graduate, but there are other benefits as well.
1. Part of a healthy social life
It’s important to learn the skills and methods that you need to socialize, and college is a great place to do that. You can connect with peers, professors, mentors, and even future job prospects. Through positive and even negative interactions, you can practice communication skills and find out what works for you on both a personal and professional level.
2. Access to resources
Networking allows you access to additional resources. As your network grows, so do your opportunities for knowledge, skills, feedback, and resources. You’re able to contact people in your network for help, references, and constructive criticism.
3. Career opportunities
People in your network can recommend you for a particular position, give you advice on how to get a position that you want, and even serve as a reference when you’re applying for a job.
The more people that you speak to and add to your network, the more you stand out. When you attend occasions such as social events, functions, and meetings, you can get noticed. This helps you to meet more of the right people.
How to network in college
It can feel daunting to think about beginning to approach networking. However, it doesn’t have to be a difficult or scary task. Here are some tips to make networking easier.
1. Make it a part of your routine
Your routine will likely consist of doing things like going to classes, having meals, going to the library, and doing extracurriculars. Talk to your professors and classmates. Build relationships with them by having real conversations and showing interest. You never know when you might see them again in the professional world!
You can build this into a routine that will really help your career take off.
2. Actually take part in things
College is the time to do it all. Go to parties, do extracurriculars, attend your classes. And when you do, you will meet plenty of people. You never know when they can come in handy.
Their potential usefulness aside, you will also hone your social skills and make great memories. Your personal growth is also important for your career.
3. Visit your campus career center
Most colleges have a campus career center that’s chock-full of resources. You can find internships, mock job interviews, and information on upcoming career fairs.
Career fairs help you to meet company representatives, pass around your resume, learn more about your industry, and see what career paths await you.
4. Make your presence known online
Part of a healthy network is a good online presence. You can create a LinkedIn profile, have your own website, and work on your online portfolio. You can also leverage social media.
Many colleges have alumni groups online, usually on Facebook. Make sure to join them as they will often post job openings that their companies have. You may have things in common with them besides the same college, so don’t be shy to start conversations.
5. Be open
Establishing your network is an ongoing process. It can happen anywhere and anytime. You might overhear a conversation on the bus, or be in line at a coffee shop and see someone from your lectures. Be open to these connections and don’t be afraid to politely insert yourself into these situations.
6. Maintain your connections
A good network isn’t just about making connections, it’s about keeping them too. There’s no point in talking to a thousand people if you’re only going to speak to them once. They won’t remember you and it’s not exactly good manners.
Form real connections by being genuine in your interactions. Speak to people continuously, check up on them from time to time, and ensure that you’re present when you interact with them.
7. Be good
Perhaps most importantly, you should be a good person. When you’re mixing, ensure that you’re putting your best foot forward so that you get noticed for the right reasons. Be as courteous and kind as possible. Don’t withhold useful information or put others down, and be remembered for doing positive things such as showing loyalty and making others feel valued.
Network your way to success
Now that you understand why it’s so important to network in college as well as how easy it can be, you can get out there and shine! Practice and time are your friends, so even if you don’t see results right away, don’t let that get you down.
The more you try, the more chances you’ll have to succeed. Good luck!