STUDENT LIFE / JUL. 01, 2014
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How to Network for Your Job Search Before Graduating

The job market isn't what it used to be.

Nowadays, even having a college degree doesn't guarantee an interview...

And much less a job offer.

It was once thought that the creation of popular job sites would facilitate the entire process of looking for work.

The rationale was that we would no longer need to spend so much time trying to find these opportunities, so we could just focus on applying.

But the easier something is to access, the more competition you have to worry about. It's tough even for the qualified to get noticed.

So now it usually just boils down to who you know.

For those of you still in college, I want to say that you still have time to work on that aspect of your career ambitions - if you haven't started already. Nowadays it's more about who you know than what you know.

Let's go over how to network for your job search before graduation. You'll thank me later.

I. Get New Connections

There's no room for shyness when you're trying to expand your network. Be bold! Adding new contacts is a very beneficial way of strengthening your network. Where do you look? Check out the profiles of the people you currently know. Scan over their own connections until you notice people who are decision makers in companies. Then contact them! Be very inquisitive. Ask lots of questions about their career, industry, and how they landed a job with that company. You never know what internship or entry level opportunities can come from simply knowing the guy who knows the guy.

II. Keep In Touch With Your Network Posse

Find appropriate times during the year to acknowledge your network. Holidays are a perfect time to send your contacts an e-mail wishing them well. But don't make it a generalized e-mail. Take your time with each one, personalize it, so that it doesn't read so robotic and stale. Really ramp this up for the last stretch of months in your college tenure. You'll need your name to be fresh in the minds of your most important contacts.

III. Lend a Helping Hand

You may not realize it, but helping others can ultimately pay dividends. So with that said... don't be that self-absorbed network hog. Focusing on yourself and your own network will limit you. What should you do? You should look to bring your networks together. Introduce one friend to another. If you know someone who also needs a foot in the door then be the bigger person and present someone in your network who can help them. Most college graduate jobs are found this way, anyway. So make it a point to be a team player.

IV. Mind Your Circle. Choose Carefully.

Don't just settle for connecting with people inside of your college. Sure, having a ton of friends will benefit you in the long run - when their own careers start taking off. But you should also look into staying in touch with those who have active in the community or work in different industries (not just the one you ideally want to work in). Also, everyone could benefit from a mentor. Find someone qualified who is willing to take time to help you with the job hunt.

V. Share the Passion

Networking at its core is really all about being a purposeful people person. So be open to all kinds of contacts. And not just people who work in the field you want to be a part of. If you're trying to get work as an accountant, but you have a love for music, then don't refrain from connecting with musicians. Besides, you never know who those people may know. It's such a small world that you can find opportunities in the least likely of places OR people.

That's all there is to it. So start chatting people up!

Be interested. Be a great listener. Be real.

The rest will take care of itself.

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