Networking can be an intimidating word, but it doesn’t have to be. Networking is just about connecting, which is something we do daily, sometimes without even realising it. As a college student, it’s crucial you begin networking as early as possible because your network could eventually be responsible for helping you land your first job or growing your future business.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
1. Connect on Social Media
LinkedIn and Facebook are great platforms for reaching out to other businesses in your area of education. Find local companies or employees who are in the line of work you hope to be in and connect in a genuine way.
2. Get Active in Your Educational Department
Almost every department has some sort of group dedicated to their area of study. The business division, for example, will often have some type of young entrepreneurs or business leadership group where they will meet with and learn from successful people in the community.
3. Visit Local Service Club Organisations
Almost every community has a chapter of Rotary Club or Lions Club where local business people gather weekly to network. Although it’s a members-only club, they are always open to visitors invited by other members. Ask your professors if they participate in any and ask for an invitation.
One of the best ways to network is to volunteer in your community. Charitable organisations always need extra hands, and if you’ve visited a service club, they continually have open opportunities to help out. You can also check with your local Salvation Army, women’s shelter or hospital.
5. Get a Job
Even if your schedule doesn’t allow you to work full time, a part-time job can be a great way to get out in the community and meet people. The best use of your time would be to do an internship with a company in your desired field of work. Ask your professor or department head about available opportunities. Local businesses will often contact colleges when they need extra help and your department head likely has a listing of these types of openings.
6. Talk to Everyone
Keep in mind that anyone you meet can be a potential networking contact and treat everyone with the same level of respect. You never know when you might bump into a janitor who is the nephew of the CEO of your dream company. The old saying is sometimes true: “It’s not what you know. It’s who you know!”
Special thanks to Claire Stewart ding us with this article. She is a freelance writer and blogger focused on writing about health, travel, and business among other topics. She graduated from Washington State University with a Bachelors in Women’s Studies and currently lives in Seattle with her goldfish, Merlin.