Networking is building contacts that are well-connected on campus, in the business sector, and in the community, who understand the power of personal referral and are willing to provide additional contacts. The tough part, especially as college students, is starting the process of getting connected. It can be a time-consuming process, but there are many benefits.
Here are great ways to network.
You’re already associated with a great Greek organization. There are other organizations on campus which can help you meet more people. They include other social clubs and organizations connected to your major or eventual employment industry. Try to make the time to join them and attend their functions. Get to know academic leaders You may not readily see this, but your instructors can be invaluable sources of advice, guidance and networking. Teachers and professors have associations and relationships in the business world as well as the campus community. You might not hear them bragging about these organizations, but it would serve you well to ask them.
Attend conferences and receptions
No matter what your major is or the industry you wish to work when you graduate, there are conferences, workshops, and receptions right there in your community. They may be on campus, associated with your school or department, or in the community connected to local industry associations. Take advantage of both and attend all that you can. The people you meet will help you become more familiar with your interests and potential career and they will connect you to additional leaders in your desired field.
Work in your chosen field
Internships and part-time jobs provide outstanding opportunities for those interested in building their networks and preparing for successful careers. These provide you with an excellent opportunity to gain hands-on experience in your chosen field. You will also be able to interface, on a daily basis, with business leaders who will see your skills firsthand.
It doesn’t matter how old you are or the stage of your career, having mentors makes a huge difference. Most immediately to you are the alumni and parents in your chapter. When you meet them at Family Weekend or Homecoming, make it a point to engage in meaningful conversations about your career pursuits. Do the same with anyone you meet, whether they’re connections from home, work, campus…wherever. The way I look at it…there’s an opportunity in everyone you meet. All it takes is a sincere conversation and you’ll find it.
A favorite to some employers is taking a little time to support a local charitable organization. Volunteering allows you to accomplish tasks with people of diverse backgrounds, stages of careers, and points of view. These community and business leaders will see you in action and get to know you at the same time. As you’re volunteering, you’ll be able to hone existing skills and learn new ones, making you even more marketable to potential employers.
Bond with Chapter Volunteers
Most chapters utilize the voluntary leadership of alumni and parents. Whether they serve as chapter advisors, on a housing corporation, foundation board, parent’s club, or a special event committee, these leaders are interested and engaged with the chapter. They’re also outstanding community and career connectors, who possess invaluable insight, advice, guidance, and contact lists. These people may provide the most direct and powerful path to successfully launching careers. Pull them aside and develop relationships.
Email and LinkedIn message contacts to arrange in-person or virtual informational interviews. This will show your interest, expand your network, and you will learn valuable information. Don’t be afraid to also ask your parents and friends of your family to make introductions for you to key leaders.
Networking is a lot like gardening. You can’t build a strong relationship overnight. It takes time…just like when you plant seeds, you have to nurture them and wait for them to grow. If you want to build a strong network, you must begin “planting the seeds of your career” now. If you wait until you’re hungry to start planting those seeds, then you might before the seeds mature.