Networking is a very important skill to learn while you’re in college, and if you learn how to do it well you can really open a lot of doors for yourself. When you are looking for internships, jobs, partnerships and collaborators, your networking skills are going to make or break a lot of your endeavors. That said, you don’t want to project yourself as a social climber or some kind of shark, so it’s important that you learn how to make connections with people in a way that is authentic and lasting. Here is what college students need to know about networking.
Don’t Display Obvious Motivations
If you are only talking to a person because there is something you believe they can help you with, then you want to either be subtle about what you’re looking for, or you need to offer something in exchange. People don’t mind being utilized so long as the situation is mutually beneficial. However, even if this is the case, it’s important to respect the person and to show interest in who they are. It’s just the polite and civilized thing to do.
Get Involved in the Right Places
You don’t want to spend a lot of time networking with people who aren’t going to get you very far, so you need to know who you ideally need to be talking to. This takes a little bit of research and paying attention, but if you are involved in the right projects and going to the right places then this should be very easy. It’s not to say that you shouldn’t be friends with people who don’t serve your personal agenda, you just want to make sure you know the difference. If you’re lucky, there will be a lot of overlap.
Once you do start connecting with a lot of different people and start taking on responsibilities, you want to be sure that you develop a strong reputation for yourself. This means being reliable and consistent in every way possible. You should always reply to emails as quickly as possible, and it should never take your more than 24 hours. You should always follow through with promises that you make, and you should always be on time and prepared for any events that you are expected to attend.
Be a Connector
Not only do you want to know who you should be connecting with yourself, you also want to give back to others by connecting them with people that might be of interest to them. Not only is this a way to gain the trust of people who might doubt your sincerity or genuineness, but it will also help to sustain your relationship with both parties. After all, there’s a good chance that you will rely on your connections with most people more than once.
Stay in Touch
In addition to sustaining your relationships with people by helping them when you can, you want to keep in touch over long periods of time. This is a lot easier these days because of social media. Just make sure that you connect with people over multiple platforms, because you never know when one of them might go out of style. When you finish school at Rutgers Online, or wherever you earn your degree, you’re going to need a way to get a hold of all of your cohorts.