We’ll be the first to admit it…networking is hard. It can be particularly hard for a student or recent graduate, unsure of where to even start the process. It’s important to remember that you’re not alone! The first steps to networking can be as simple as logging into LinkedIn! Easy, right?
Now, let’s get you started shaking hands, taking names, and making connections with our top tips for networking!
1. If you’re not on LinkedIn already, join it! It’s becoming one of the number one ways recruiters search for and contact job candidates and it’s a great way to start reaching out to people and creating your network. Take the time to fill out your profile completely and start making some connections; look for friends, professors, colleagues, or even employers. Join some industry groups, or local industry groups, and networks in the field you’re interested in, and follow the companies and brands that intrigue you. Use the search function to go beyond just applying for a job, and reach out to the actual HR representative or recruiter from the company! LinkedIn makes it incredibly easy to get in touch with future employers and colleagues.
2. Join your alumni association! Your university makes a great effort to keep in touch with their alumni. They often host alumni networking events…sometimes, even on campus! Stop by an event or two and chat with the alumni there about what they do and how they got there. You already have things in common – you went to the same school – so starting a conversation should be simple. You never know who you might meet or where they might work!
3. There is NO shame in using your parents’ connections! It’s an easy way to get started creating a network of people in your field. This is made even easier when it’s someone you already know. Looking to break into journalism….and your mom’s best friend happens to be a newspaper reporter? Looks like you’ve found the first stop on your networking path. Although you may not get a job or an internship right off the bat from these connections, you can glean some great advice on how to move forward with your career and goals. Take these connections seriously and don’t take advantage of their relationship with your family.
4. Feeling ready to attend a networking event? Do some research to find the right event for you and what you’re interested in! Again, use LinkedIn to see if there’s an event going on locally that you could attend, reach out to your new connections to see if they know of any events or are going to one themselves, or check out MeetUp.com to see what groups are regularly meeting in your area.
5. Prepare for an event with plenty of business cards, a pen, and know how you want to present YOU and what YOU do to everyone you’ll be meeting! Go into the event with a goal in mind (ie: plan to meet 5 new people) and stick to it! Don’t leave until you achieve that goal. Be sure to snag everyone’s cards and jot down something quick to help remind you later of who they were and what you talked about.
Meet someone who works at the company with an internship you’re dying to have? Follow up! Reach out to them within 48 hours and be sure to include that detail or two you wrote down (so that they remember you too). Express your interest in their company or the position. Ask for their guidance and advice before you go demanding anything from them and you’ll be sure to make a positive connection.
Okay, who’s ready to network now? It’s never easy to jump right in, and we recommend dipping your toes in with LinkedIn first, but eventually you’ll have to get out there and meet some people IRL too! Putting a face and a personality to a name on a resume is crucial for being remembered when it comes down to applying for a job and it’ll make those nerve-wracking moments at a networking event well worth it when you get the gig!