The Importance Of Networking In College
Networking is not some new trend to be done until the next one comes along. It’s also not something to be put off until after graduation. There are real benefits to networking in college that will add real value to your college experience, as well as assist you in finding employment after graduation. You should be networking in college because:
Many Jobs Are Not Advertised
If you’ve found yourself browsing Indeed.com, wondering why none of the listings look like your dream job, it could be because your dream job is not even being advertised. Career Shifters puts the proportion of jobs that are never advertised at 70%. That’s right, the vast majority of jobs never hit the job boards, or the classifields (do people still use this?).
So how does one get access to these 70% of jobs? If you guessed through networks, you guessed correctly. As it turns out who you know can be just as important as what you know. Many companies look to there employees for referrals to fill many positions. If you’re not networking, and meeting new people, chances are you will miss out on these opportunities.
You’ll Want To Brand Yourself As An Expert in Your Field
Companies are not the only ones that should be interested in branding. As a college student hoping to one day establish yourself as an expert in a chosen field, branding yourself is one of the best ways to stand out from the crowd.
When it comes to branding yourself, it helps to have a network of people who will champion you as an expert in your field. It’s one thing to claim to be an expert, it’s another thing when you have a network of people to support your claim. You’re more likely to be taken seriously, making it easier to establish yourself as an expert.
How To Network While In College
Like I mentioned before, college is one of the best times to get started on building your network. As a student you’ll have countless opportunities to meet new people in your field and beyond. Try to reach out to everyone from fellow students, to professors and other professionals.
Once you’ve made connections, nuture your networks through consistent communication. A network isn’t something to discard once you get our first job. You should aim to form lifelong connections that are multually beneficial. The best tips for college students include:
Take Advantage of Group Projects
Group projects have earned a pretty bad reputation among college students. The only student that has good things to say about group projects, are those that slack off and make it a bad experience for everybody else.
Regardless of this, group projects are a great opportunity for meeting fellow classmates, and making connections. They’re a great opportunity for those who are in large classes, or take classes/degrees online. While completing the project, take the time to make connections by building friendships, and exchanging information. You can even take your connections a step further by adding your group members on social media.
Looking for a Job? Work on Campus
A job on campus can take you much further than waiting tables at the local bar. Not only are you getting the opportunity to gain relevant job experience, an on campus job can get you in touch with fellow students, professors, and college administrators. Jobs often available on campus are usually centered around tutoring, though there are often positions in the library, and administrative offices.
Use Social Media
Welcome to the 21st century where everything is just an app away. Social media should form a large part of your networking strategy. Most college students use some form of social media, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.
Search for fellow students using hashtags, and reach out by sending a request. LinkedIn is a great place to start since the platform is geared towards making professional connections, and many students use the site as part of their job search.
Participate in Classes
Networking in college isn’t just about getting in good with fellow students but also with professors. Professors are an extremely valuable connection because they can usually write recommendations for jobs and graduate school. Plus with their depth of knowledge and experiences, professors make great mentors.
There is no better way to connect with professors than by showing genuine interest in your coursework. Participate, ask questions both during and after class, and make use of office hours. Many professors are also on social media, and many manage groups on Facebook where you can continue to discuss coursework even after the semester is up.
Join A Club/Organization
Easily one of the best ways to network is to join a club/ organization. Colleges usually have a wide variety of student organizations, covering a wide range of topics. There are clubs specific to your major or faculty, organizations centered on activism, student government, sororities and fraternities. If you’re a top achiever academics wise, a good honor society might be a great place to start.
These organizations usually have meetings, charity or fundraising events, and seminars which all provide great opportunities to network while on campus. Put yourself out there by attending organization events, volunteering for roles, and if the opportunity presents itself, run for office.
Connect with Your Alumni
Connections you make in college are not temporary, and should not just last until you find a job. Networks should be maintained and treated as the lasting connections they are. Once you get close to your graduation date, join your college alumni as way of keeping in touch with contacts. Many college alumni are very active and host events, perfect for both maintaining contacts and creating new ones.
Have any other tips that worked for you? Feel free to tell us in the comments below!