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Strategies for networking and building professional connections while in school

“Your network is your destiny, a reality backed up by many studies in the newly emergent fields of social networking and social contagion theory. We are the people we interact with.”

Keith Ferrazzi, Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time

Networking is one of the most important skills and you need to make it big in this world of hard and soft skills. Simply put, it means making connections. Building professional connections requires cultivating genuine relationships, showing genuine interest, and providing value to others. Approach networking with an open mindset, be proactive and be willing to assist others along their journey.

Now, let us tell you how you can develop a network of useful connections:

Take advantage of career fairs and networking events

Take full advantage of career fairs, industry conferences, and networking events hosted on or off campus to connect with professionals, learn about different career paths available to you, and develop relationships with industry experts.

Especially in this post-pandemic era, it has become all the easier for you to get going from your home, so sign up for webinars and virtual meets. You can find them through newsletters, and Facebook groups among others.

Join student organisations and clubs

Get involved with student organisations and clubs related to your field of interest, which offer events, workshops, guest speaker sessions, and networking opportunities among peers, alumni, and professionals in the industry. It’s never too early to get in and any experience you accumulate there, you can put it on resumes. 

Who knows you may meet your future investor, business partner, or co-worker there!

Reach out to alumni

Get to know alumni from your school or college who work in your desired field by attending alumni events, using platforms such as LinkedIn, or emailing to request advice, mentorship, or informational interviews from them. They often have a vested interest in helping current students excel!

Besides, if there is someone you admire professionally why not ask them for a cup of coffee? It can be a local leader, someone you connected with on LinkedIn doing the job you dream of, or anyone. The worst they can say is a No, but remember you have everything to gain and nothing to lose. So, take your chances.

Use social media platforms

Create an effective online presence through platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and relevant professional forums in your field. Join conversations, follow industry leaders, and post relevant content that demonstrates your expertise – all to establish professional contacts while showing them that you represent them! 

Attend guest lectures and workshops

Take advantage of guest lectures, workshops, and seminars offered by experts from different industries to learn from experts, ask them questions, and create lasting connections afterwards.

Take part in internships and co-op programmes

Internships and co-op programmes provide invaluable hands-on experience, allowing you to form relationships with professionals within your chosen field and showcase your knowledge, skills, and dedication. Take full advantage of these opportunities by participating in internships or co-op programmes!

Seek information about interviews

Engage in informational interviews with professionals in your chosen field in order to gain insight into their career journey, industry trends, and tips for success. These discussions may prove extremely insightful – perhaps leading to new opportunities down the line!

Consult your professors and mentors

Build relationships with professors and mentors who specialise in your area of interest; they can offer guidance, connect you to industry professionals, serve as references or recommenders, and serve as references or recommenders in future opportunities. Around 31% of job seekers get a new job through referrals only!

Engage actively in class

Engage with class discussions, pose insightful questions, and collaborate with classmates to form strong bonds among peers that could eventually lead to collaborations, referrals, and support on your professional journey.

Follow up and maintain relationships

After networking events or interactions, follow up with those you met by sending them a personal email expressing your thanks and interest in staying in contact. Maintain relationships by checking back occasionally, sharing relevant articles or opportunities, or offering support to others in your network.

Internships and Part-time Jobs

Not only financial support but part-time work can also be used as an opportunity to make new connections. You will have co-workers, customers, and of course your superiors. So, don’t be shy and proactively approach. It can be extremely significant, especially for those who are doing part-time work and internships in their field of interest or the field they aspire to make a career in. The best part about internships – they look so good on resumes, The second-best part – they will help you to meet people from the field of work.

So, prepare a resume, write a compelling cover letter and get going.

The thing about good habits is the sooner you start incorporating them, the better it is. So, now get up and sincerely connect with others around you, and remember to give as well, After all, power today comes from sharing resources, not withholding them!

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September 11, 2023

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