Having a college degree signifies knowledge, but in the business world, it’s about who you know, not what you know. This isn’t to say that your education at the University of Cincinnati was pointless – it’s just to emphasize the importance of networking. You don’t want to wait until you’ve already graduated from college to start networking. The best time to begin is while you’re still a student.
So while you’re studying for and taking exams, attending parties and going to club meetings, make sure you fit in networking building somewhere. There are a number of ways you can pull this off. But before you begin, here are a few things you should know beforehand.
You Need to Maintain the Connections You Make
A lot of people make the mistake of making tons of connections, but doing nothing to foster them. Meeting someone once and never reaching out to them again isn’t a smart move. If you want to be good at networking, you need to check up on your contacts every once in a while. It doesn’t have to be often either – every six months or once per semester would be fine. Send them an email and ask to go out for lunch or a coffee. This will help build a solid relationship with them.
Begin Building Your Network While in School
Those who decide to wait until after graduation to begin networking end up falling behind in the business game. There are a number of networking opportunities you can take advantage of while you’re still in school. You can speak with your professors, who likely know people in the industry they can introduce you to. Don’t let this untapped resource go to waste. You should also be on the look out for connections at your internships, organizations, clubs and on-campus events.
Reach Out to Those in Other Fields
You don’t only have to network with individuals in your industry. You never know when you may need the services of someone in an entirely different field. For instance, if you’re going into marketing and communications, you should try connecting with folks in hospitality, travel, health career and sports. In your field, you could be hired by anyone in any of these industries.
Always Be Prepared to Network
Not all connections you make will be intentional. You may be able to find meaningful relationships just about anywhere, including hallways, elevators and even the store. It’s a good idea to have a 30-second elevator pitch memorized for these occasions. A set of business cards should also be in your purse or wallet.
Mind Your Behavior On Social Media and In-Person
Your social media accounts are fair game in the hunt for employment, so be prepared to have potential employers check out your feeds to see what you’re about. Look through your profiles to see if you have posts or photos that would look bad in the eyes of an employer. Be mindful of all future posts you make as well. You don’t want to lose the chance at a great opportunity because of the things you posted online.