Every college student is different, but for most of us, our reason for attending school is to eventually land our dream job. Freshman, you may be thinking that this blog post doesn’t apply to you—it does! There’s no time like the present to grow your network and prepare for professional life beyond college. For upperclassmen, now is the time to grow your network and create lasting professional relationships.
In today’s culture, there seems to be a trend that suggests who you know carries more weight than what you know. While our degrees make us qualified to pursue our desired careers, effective networking might be what makes a good candidate a great one. Establishing a personal connection could make a world of difference!
While the networking process can be overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be! Here are a few tips on how to reduce the stress that comes with it:
1. Be Bold
If there’s one thing that internships have taught me, it is that everyone in the workplace was once in our shoes. Taking college courses, vying for internships and working hard to land their dream job. Don’t be afraid to ask people for a moment of their time and be patient when you do. You’ll never make connections if you don’t try to, so putting yourself out there is an important first step.
2. Be Patient
Working professionals have a lot going on. While thirty minutes may not seem like much to you, for them it could be time to prep for a meeting or dial in to a conference call. If you email them and don’t get a reply right away, be patient. More likely than not they will get back to you.
3. Be Respectful
If you are fortunate enough to connect with someone in your desired field, be respectful of the time they give you! If you have questions about an internship, do your research before then. If you are reaching out to them for career advice, come prepared to talk about your strengths and weaknesses in your desired field of work. Your conversation will flow much more smoothly, and you will get more out of it if you do so!
4. Be Intentional
The most valuable thing anyone has is their time. Once you have made the connection, reach out to say thank you and follow up. Mentioned above, the person you’re networking with was once in your shoes and they want you to succeed. Reach out to them along your journey and keep them updated on where life takes you!
5. Most importantly – be yourself!
I’ve always been told that the happiest people are those who are the same person at home and in the workplace. When networking, don’t be nervous about being a certain way or coming across as uber put together. You want the individual you are connecting with to be authentic with you-do the same for them!
While I am no expert, hopefully some of these tips from my personal experience with networking will give you that extra push you need to attempt networking and making connections! Throughout my internships in college, the relationships I have made are what I value most, and I hope the same can be true for you. Happy Networking!