People have been networking to find work since the time of the Ancient Romans, and today, more than ever, jobs are found through networking! Once you have built up a network you will be able to request referrals and recommendations from your contacts. Referrals can ensure that your resume ends up at the top of pile. But building a professional network takes time. Fortunately, it is a process that you can begin while still in college. So if you are not networking already, here’s how to start:
- Connect: Not sure where to start to make connections? Your professors, instructors, and teachers can be a great source for connections within your future industry. If you work an internship everyone you meet there is a potential connection. You can also search for groups of professionals on LinkedIn by just click on “Groups”. Additionally, you can look for career specific blogs, bloggers, and websites online and on Twitter. Providing relevant comments on blog posts can get you noticed by bloggers and others in your future industry. This will not only generate contacts but also, by keeping you informed of what’s going on in your future industry, ensure that you will be an insightful and knowledgable candidate in a job interview.
- Conferences, Seminars, and Lectures: Attending speaking events is an excellent way to learn more about career paths, make connections, and hear about job opportunities. Colleges often host these events, but if your college does not, check area libraries and colleges. You can also search online or ask professors and department staff. If the subject of the conference or lecture sounds interesting go ahead and attend, you never know who you’ll meet that can help your career! Always be on the lookout to make new connections at these events. Asking questions during Q & A segments and staying afterwards to continue the discussion with presenters and other attendees are great ways to turn these engagements into networking opportunities.
- LinkedIn Account: These are not just for individuals with jobs. If you haven’t already, make an account. When you meet contacts that work in your desired industry, request their contact information, and connect with the on LinkedIn. You can also search for and join groups related to the industries you want to work on LinkedIn. They have over 1 million groups so finding some relevant to your career goals won’t be too difficult. Once you join a group you can then request to connect with other group members.
- Business Cards: The business card is the best way to exchange contact information. Even if you don’t have a job it’s a good idea to have cards so you can distribute your contact information. Order some cards online and be sure to include on them your professional email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) and LinkedIn account information. Keep in mind that your university email address may no longer be available to you upon graduation! Distribute your business card to contacts you make when going to career and job fairs, conferences, and other career-related events.