Knowing how to network in college is an important skill that offers an array of benefits. Networking allows you to stay in touch with your peers and other professionals who are in your industry and it can also help you get a job or inform you to open positions. Not only can you reach out to your network for job opportunities you can also reach out to them for career advice and industry updates. They will help keep you in the loop.
Students can set themselves up for professional success by building a network while they’re still in college. Your network can help you build skills, gain experience, and be a possible recommendation. Along with your college classes and degree, your network will become the foundation of your career.
LinkedIn Is The Place To Be
Almost every professional is on LinkedIn, you should be too. LinkedIn is a professional social networking site that allows professionals and college students to showcase their skillsets, achievements, work, and academic experiences.
LinkedIn can be especially important for college students who are just getting started in their careers because it lets them connect with individuals in the industry and build a network. This guide is a summary of how to use LinkedIn for college students.
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Building your network doesn’t have to be hard or intimidating. It can be fun. Here are a few tips on how to network in college.
1. Start Building Your Network Early
You can start building your network at any time. However, I recommend building your network no later than your junior year. Typically, your junior year is when you get accepted into your major. For some students, this may be when they start meeting students, peers, and other professionals who are in their career fields. These are the professionals you want to start connecting and building relationships with.
2. Build A Valuable Network
Unlike other social media platforms, the goal is not to connect with everyone and anyone. You are not trying to get the most likes. It’s not a popularity contest. Build your network with purpose. You want valuable connections that you can reach out to when you need help or are seeking new opportunities. Focus on people who have industry knowledge and who can offer advice and support. You want to be able to lean on your network throughout your career.
3. Use Your Experience
As a college student, you have experiences you can use to connect with other professionals. A job, internship, research opportunity, volunteering, teacher’s assistant, all of these experiences are a great way to build your network as they put you in the industry, working with professionals and experts in the field. Use these experiences to your benefit, gain experience, expand your skill set, and create valuable connections with professionals in the industry. Your experience is how you get your foot in the door and start meeting other professionals.
4. Use Your College Career Center To Network
Your college career center might be the perfect place to start building your professional network. The career center’s purpose is to get you into the industry whether it be through an internship, job, shadowing opportunity, conference, or introducing you to alumni in your career field.
Your campus career center is meant to guide students from being in the classroom to being in the workforce. They have vast connections and resources in all career fields that can be very helpful in creating your network. Take advantage of the opportunities they can create for you. You never know when a connection can lead to a huge opportunity for you.
5. Be Active On LinkedIn
Make sure you are active on LinkedIn. Being active allows you to expand your professional network and create lasting connections. If you are active your connections will share articles, posts, and other useful information that may create opportunities or referrals for you.
Some of the best ways to be active are to check out your “notifications”. Congratulate people on their new jobs, promotion, or accomplishments. Comment on posts. Like comments or share a post. Make time for those that reach out to you for a connection. If you know of someone’s skills or abilities, “endorse” them, and they may endorse you back. It’s worth repeating, LinkedIn is not like other social media platforms. The goal is to have strong relevant connections, you are building something valuable so don’t be concerned with the popularity aspect.
6. Building A Professional Network Is A Two-Way Street
Meeting people and making connections is half of building your network. The other half is working to develop lasting and genuine relationships with those connections. Offer support, make introductions, and share industry information. You must always reciprocate the support that you receive. This is how lasting relationships are formed. Your career will be long and prosperous, and you want your network to mimic this.
Final Thoughts On How To Network In College
All the time and energy you put into building your network when you are in college will be one of your best investments. If you’ve spent the time to build strong valuable relationships with the people in your network, it will pay off.
Studies show that 70-80% of jobs are never advertised. These positions are filled through networking. If you build a good enough network when you graduate all you have to do is reach out to them and someone may be able to recommend a job position—and you’re in!