6 Ways to Build Your Network in School
As a college student, it can be intimidating to think about networking. You may even think that building a professional network is something that happens when you’re older or after you graduate. Networking is actually an essential part of career success, and it’s never too early to start! Building your strong professional network in college can create valuable opportunities for mentorship, internships, and job opportunities in the future. Here are some college tips for connecting with professors, alumni, and fellow students.
Attend Networking Events
One of the easiest ways to start building your professional network is to attend networking events. Your college likely hosts events such as career fairs, alumni networking events, and industry-specific panels. Attend as many events as possible, and depending on the event, come prepared with a business card or resume and a brief introduction about yourself. These events offer a great opportunity to connect with professionals in your field and gain valuable insight.
Take Advantage of Office Hours
Professors are experts in their field and can offer important advice and guidance as you kick start your career. Take advantage of their expertise by attending office hours and asking for advice on career-related topics. As you develop a rapport with your professor, you open up doors for introductions to alumni or other professionals in your field of interest, as well as opportunities to be a part of projects and internships.
Join Clubs and Organizations
Joining clubs and organizations on campus can provide opportunities to meet like-minded people in your areas of interest. For example, if you’re interested in marketing, join the marketing club on campus to learn about industry trends, network with alumni and club advisors, and more.
LinkedIn is a powerful tool for networking and building your professional brand. First, make sure your LinkedIn profile is complete and up-to-date. Then, keep connecting with alumni, peers, and mutual connections in your field. When reaching out, make sure to personalize your message and explain why you’re interested in connecting. Read this BobaNews article for more LinkedIn tips.
Attend Career Workshops
Your college hosts many career workshops for resume writing or interview preparation. These workshops offer a great opportunity to connect with career services staff, and are sometimes held in partnership with other companies and recruiters. Make these important connections by attending, engaging, and being prepared with questions. You never know who could end up referring you or hiring you!
Volunteer for Professional Organizations
Volunteering creates opportunities to network with professionals in your field of interest while gaining relevant experience. For example, if you’re interested in environmental science, consider volunteering for a local conservation organization. You’ll get a chance to learn about different roles, functions, and experience what the work is actually like.
Building your professional network in college takes time and effort, but it’s an investment in your future career success. By putting yourself out there, you can start building a strong professional network that will benefit you throughout your career, and will be especially helpful as you navigate your early career years!