Implementing a networking process to advance your career should begin when you are in college, before you actually enter the professional workforce. Networking during your college years expands your scope of influencers and provides you with a wider variety of people to assist in your future job searching needs and career development opportunities. Networking during your college years improves your chances of seamlessly transitioning from your educational years to professional employment. This article will address several steps to take when networking in college.
1. Get Connected Online
Getting connected online is an important part of networking in today’s professional career climate. Three of the main social media platforms that you should utilize for networking purposes are Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. LinkedIn is not just for business professionals. As a college student, you should get active on this network and build your profile. Check out this profile building tip sheet to find out several steps you can take to build your profile on LinkedIn. Some of the steps include: crafting an informative headline, choosing an appropriate photo, regularly updating your status, joining groups, claiming your unique URL, and sharing your work. You can utilize these same steps when crafting your profiles on Twitter and Google+. Additionally, LinkedIn has created some new options for students in sections where they can add content while only having limited professional experience. They can highlight various achievements in the classroom, completed projects, awards, grades, and participation in organizations and groups. Use these online groups to network with other professionals and make connections for your future professional career.
2. Expand Your Horizons
Another way that you can network in college is to expand your horizons by getting off campus. For example, apply for an internship in your field and begin to develop the professional workplace skills that you will need to further your future career. Completing a successful internship will increase your professional skill sets and add to your networking contacts which can be viable for future workplace opportunities. It is also possible to gain employment from the company where you intern, if the internship was successful. Internships will also provide you with “real life” work experience that can now become part of your growing résumé. You can also consider attending professional groups and opportunities for college students to engage in career networking.
3. Utilize Your Current Role
It is important that you don’t try to jump ahead too far before you’re ready. For example, utilize your role as a student and engage in networking opportunities that are in your current circle of influence. Employ your student status to gain entrance into new networking opportunities. For example, make connections with alumni and various professionals in your field of study. These individuals will generally be willing to connect with you as a student and offer advice, possible employment opportunities, and a chance to get connected to other influencers in their networks.
Networking in college should become a fun experience, and in order to be truly successful in this endeavor, you cannot see the action as a chore. Begin with crafting the most effective social media profiles and then connecting with others in your online networks. Expand your horizons by completing an internship and also utilize your role as a student to your advantage while networking.