The key concept is “reaching out”. You can’t live in a cocoon in the 21st century. The world is getting smaller by the day. You have to be nice to everyone because everyone is connected to everyone somehow.
My 24 year old daughter used to be very shy. We encouraged her to step out of her comfort zone and talk to people when she was in elementary school. While in college she reached out to find internships and now has an extensive network of contacts she relies on to find jobs and gathers information.
College age clients tell me they don’t know anyone or they have no one to network with. It is just not true. Networking is about talking to people, saying hello, asking questions, being curious. Networking is discovering what you might have in common even if it is not readily apparent on the surface.
Here are nine tips to networking while in college:
- Talk to everyone you meet. Ask about what they do, what they are interested in, what are their goals. Share something about yourself, your plans, interests, and goals.
- Collect business cards. Or at least collect names and email addresses.
- Build your LinkedIn profile and connect with people you know and meet along the way.
- Meet and talk to your professors. They have contacts and relationships they are often willing to parlay into contacts for you.
- Take internships during the summer and during the school year if you have time. The people you meet during your internships are new contacts – a valuable part of networking while in college.
- Get business cards with your permanent contact information including your LinkedIn profile address. It is easier than handing out resumes. Having a business card makes it easier to ask form a card from someone you meet.
- Consider getting a QR code to consolidate your various online information in one place. Put the QR code on your new business card.
- Leverage your parent’s contacts. They probably know you or know about you already through your parents. They are likely to be willing to help.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for meetings or to get coffee to ask questions of people in your network. People you meet are usually willing and interested in helping young people get started in the working world.
Building relationships and contacts during college puts you in a stronger position to find internships and positions when you graduate.