7 Smart Networking Tips for College Students
The most important piece of advice for college students is to start networking now!
You should be building your professional / personal networks from your very first day of college. The relationships you make now can help you land interviews, internships and jobs. They can help you get recommendations and referrals, launch your own business, start a side hustle, land clients, get press, gain access to VIP’s, and get critical career support and advice throughout your life.
- Develop a diverse network.
You need a truly diverse group of people in your network, to open your mind and expand your opportunities. Don’t just stick with your friends in your classes, floor, or clubs. Make the effort to meet people who don’t look you, who grew up far from your hometown, and who have very different life experiences. You will learn a lot about other people, about the world and about yourself. And you’ll find you have much more in common with them than you realized.
- Bond with your professors.
Get to know your professors beyond the lecture time, and make sure they get to know you. They can be a source of insight, advice and professional references. Also, they know stuff.
- Connect with campus staff.
Get to know staff on your campus, and learn about their jobs and career paths. Ask them for advice. For example, if you’re interested in design or engineering, meet with the facilities team to learn about their experiences. Interested in human resources, coaching or training? Talk to the career services staff about their own career paths and education.
- Join clubs.
Contribute your skills, show off your talents, and be part of a group that shares your interests. And have fun while you’re doing it. If there isn’t a club for what you want, start it. (I did. And that’s why Vanier College has a Drama Club and New York University has a Women’s Real Estate Network.)
- Establish yourself as a professional
Yes, college students need business cards. If your college provides a business card template with the school logo – use it. If they don’t, design your own, and get creative. Give yourself a title that reflects your personality and your career interests. For example: Aspiring CEO, Future Best-Selling Author, Fashionista Forever, Problem Solver, and Student Entrepreneur are all attention-grabbing titles that also describe something important about your career goals. If you think business cards are old-fashioned, get them anyhow. The Director of Human Resources won’t give you her phone to type in your contact information. The business owner you meet in the elevator won’t have time for typos and autocorrect. Get business cards, and use them.
- Be strategic with your online presence.
Remember that future employers will look you up on google, LinkedIn, Instagram facebook, twitter, and wherever else you show up online. Check your social media content and images – and be sure they match the professional image you want the world to see. Include photos of your volunteer work, your artwork, and other hobbies and activities that reflect your skills and interests. Your online presence shouldn’t be all about cute cat videos, or self-absorbed selfies. Set up your LinkedIn profile properly: use an appropriate photo. Use an email address that includes your first and last name - hiring managers won’t remember JSmith295. Click To Tweet. You can keep it real, and keep it classy and relevant, at the same time.
- Use your time wisely.
Choose Networking over Netflix. Or combine both, and organize a group of new friends to watch together and chat about the show’s topics afterwards.
Fireball Network delivers coaching, workshop and keynotes speeches on career development and business development. We teach, coach and train our clients to build their confidence, their skills and their networks. We work with professionals of all ages, at all stages of their careers.