Networking: The practice of contacting people you know (and the people who person knows) for advice or support.
Whether you are in college or already settled in a career, you have probably heard of the importance of networking. LinkedIn was created to support the idea of professional networking. Yet, not all workers use networks. Some people try to keep their personal and working life separate and think that networking will disrupt that balance. Others view networking as almost “using” people to help yourself and avoid it because of that. And a lot of college students think they do not need to network until after they graduate. While these are legitimate concerns, the benefits of networking far outweigh any hesitations one might have about it.
Networking is useful for anyone in any stage of a career, but especially for recent grads. It’s getting harder to land a job out of college, and harder still to get a job in your desired field of work. Finding connections with people who work where you want to be can help lead you into that position. Even if you are already situated into a career, chances are you still have ambition for a promotion or project further down the road. Networks are also an indispensable resource on the off-chance of a layoff or job loss. According to a Forbes survey, networking is still the best way to find a job.
How to Network
Use the student card:
Networking could not be easier for college students. You are studying with a group of peers who all share your interest while working with professionals in your desired field. Your classmates are going to graduate and try to find jobs similar to what you want, establishing connections with them now can give you some ideas on where to look for yourself when you graduate.
Students are granted a leeway of sorts in the professional world. Use that. Whether it is internships or advice, professionals are usually more than willing to meet with a student. There is very little pressure from meeting while you are student because there is little expectation from the student to give back. Making these relationships while in school will give you an advantage when you do graduate.
According to LinkedIn statistics, members with 100% complete profiles receive 40 times more career opportunities.
Many students make the mistake of thinking they can avoid LinkedIn until after graduation, but the smart move is to use it now to track your budding network. LinkedIn recently launched new options for students that make it easier than ever to get the hang of this network.
Established professionals who develop their presence on LinkedIn open up new connections for themselves as well as huge amounts of learning tools. Your LinkedIn profile is a way for you showcase your skills and projects that you have outside of your career to your network. LinkedIn is also a vital tool to keep track of your previous contacts from former jobs.
Like anything, networking takes some preparation. No one wants to come off as “using” contacts solely for a job, so you need to prep before you call upon your network for help. Attempt to keep in contact a few times a year with people outside of your immediate circle. This does not necessarily need to be a face-to-face meeting, but a quick “how’s it going?” in an email can help you keep up with people. This way, it will not seem so one-sided when you call upon that person for advice or help.
When you do reach out to people, offer to treat them to coffee or lunch in return for their time, and make sure you know enough about them to hold a conversation. Go into that conversation with questions and advice that you have thought about beforehand. This way, you can get the most out of your time with that person.
Whether you are a student or a full-time worker, personal connections go a long way in helping you find opportunities and being successful in your career. Read more at Miss Millennia for information about networking specific to artists.
Resources for your networking skills:
Tips for People Who Hate Networking
How to Network with LinkedIn
Networking Tips for Students