For my last post of the semester, I thought it would be a good idea to discuss the importance of networking for students as well as providing a few tips on how to successfully network with professionals. I am currently working in the Career Center as a Career Development Intern and my time in the office has taught me valuable skills like how to structure a resume, how to create a cover letter and how to correctly respond in interviews. It has also taught me how to network.
Networking can be a challenging situation for many students because they feel like it is an awkward or unnatural thing to do. While I agree with this sentiment, networking is crucial to getting job in most fields. Networking means to interact with other people in a way that you are exchanging information and developing contacts, especially in a way that may further one’s career. This can be done over coffee, a meeting or even at a presentation.
For most majors, networking is a crucial step to meeting people that may know of jobs in your field. The University of Georgia, and Terry College in particular, does a great job of creating events for students and professionals to connect. This could be a presentation or simply a networking dinner, but there are several events put on each month that brings employers to students. These events are a great opportunity to introduce yourself to a potential contact, chat for a few minutes about their career and how it relates to where you want to see yourself in the future and then ask to grab their contact information and stay in contact.
Here are three tips on networking follow-up that may be useful:
- Always follow up the next day. – Thank them for their time and say you enjoyed getting to know them. Remind them of the conversation you had and communicate that you are looking forward to staying in touch. This is a great time to ask if they would be available for a follow-up phone call.
- Don’t be afraid to use LinkedIn. – LinkedIn is a great professional tool that most students don’t take advantage of. Find the person you met at the networking dinner and connect with them on LinkedIn. Send them a message, ask to chat soon over the phone, foster the relationship. LinkedIn can also be used to find brand new professional contacts. Take advantage of this platform.
- Keep in contact every three months or so. – You did the hard part of getting their contact, don’t lose the relationship you built. Reach out every now and then and ask them how they are doing, if they have heard of any recent openings, if they will be in town anytime soon so you can grab coffee. If you can continue to grow the relationship they are definitely going to be more willing to recommend you for that next job opening.
No one really likes networking. But most students and professionals will agree that it is a crucial part of landing your dream job. Everyone has heard the saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” If you do it well, you won’t have to do it often. Next time you find yourself in a networking situation, don’t be afraid. Walk with confidence and use these tips to maximize your relationships.