“It’s all about who you know, not what you know.” The number of times my parents told me this as I progressed through my college years is astounding! As I look back on what I could have done to better network and connect on campus when I was in college, I regret not taking this advice from my parents to heart. Networking and connecting with various student organizations, professors, classmates, and business professionals within the community is important. Nowadays, students should be more focused on their professional networks instead of their social networks! Check out the list below for advice on how to position yourself as one of the best networkers on campus!
Step 1: Create a LinkedIn Account
LinkedIn is the Facebook of professional networks. LinkedIn will allow you to showcase your work experiences, education, extra-curricular activities, and volunteer hours to others with whom you are connected with!
One of the cool features LinkedIn allows you to do is join groups or organizations with similar interests as yourself (for example, the American Marketing Association). Use this to build your network with individuals that share your same goals and interests. It could come in handy when you are looking for a job and need to reach out to those within the group for advice on where to look.
Your LinkedIn profile should be accurate, up to date, and 100% professional. LinkedIn is NOT Facebook. I would also suggest connecting with as many people as you know as possible. If you find yourself connecting with someone you do not know, be sure to include an introductory message as to why you are inviting them to connect!
Step 2: Join a Club or Organization
Your freshman year of college is the perfect time to explore clubs and organizations. While it is great to be on the undefeated intramural team, it is also important to join professional student groups. As a marketing major, I was sure to join the Marketing Club. Whatever your major, there is a club or two for you. If you have the time, join more than one! Don’t limit yourself.
Don’t stop at just joining a club or organization. Get involved! Run for an executive position, volunteer at the different activities the group puts on, and get to know the other club members. Some of my fondest memories from the Marketing Club was working with the executive board and attending the Spring Trips the group went on.
Step 3: Introduce Yourself to Professors, Career Center Personnel, and Other University Faculty
Professors could be your biggest ally throughout college. Who do you think are the first people recruiters go to when searching for candidates to fill their positions? Typically professors and Career Center staff. Most universities will have some sort of internship coordinator. If yours does, it would be wise to introduce yourself to them and explain what your passions and interests are. This will only help when it comes to find an internship or full time position!
Networking knows no bounds. It is something you can continue to improve on throughout your life. Keep in mind that other people may need to utilize you or your network, so be a valuable resource to them as you would expect in return!