Posted By Connie Thanasoulis-Cerrachio
As a career coach, I teach networking skills to college students because it is CRITICAL to their success. College is a new world and it’s critical to connect to others because you’ll feel more comfortable in your new surroundings, you’ll be more successful in your classes as much of the work is done in teams, and you’ll have instant “study buddies” during the crunch time of exams. But the secret reward of networking is that you’ll have an easier time of things when you look for those internships and full-time opportunities.
Remember that everyone knows, give or take, about 250 people, and the more people you meet that give you access to their network of 250 only helps multiply the people that you are connected with. Here are some ways for you to network effectively:
Join School Clubs: Some schools have over 200 school clubs - everything from Business Clubs to Tennis Clubs to Asian Heritage Clubs. Join those that spark your interest and join at least 3 or 4 so you have variety in your friends/network. This is a great way to get connected early on in your college career, meet people that have the same interests as you, and to learn a tremendous amount. School clubs funnel information to their participants about networking events, internships and full-time opportunities.
Career Services: this is a group you need to know early on. They hold the relationships with all the companies that come on campus to recruit. So you should check in with them in your freshman year and find out what opportunities exist and what the process is for applying.
Get to know your professors: they are human, just like you. Ask them about their backgrounds and how they came to teach at this school. Ask what they like about it. You'll be surprised at what you find out. Some will have worked in the business world and will have some good connections for you. You never know.
Be curious about people and ask open ended questions about them: When meeting someone new, ask them questions like "how did you pick this school?" and LISTEN. A good listener is so hard to find. Ask what they liked the best about the part of the country or the world they came from. Open ended questions yield a story (hopefully a compelling story) and you learn quite a bit about a person. Ask about their family. Ask authentically because it's wonderful to find out about people, and you never know who they know and who their family knows.
There are about 20 - 30 different types of folks you can meet at a school: the university president, the various administrators, various deans (Dean of Students is a great contact because they manage the school clubs), professors, teaching assistants, your fellow students, cafeteria workers, the hot dog vendor on the corner, the stationary store owners/clerks, the workers at Starbucks/DD, Security, Library staff, etc. Get to know these folks by a) being polite & pleasant, b) being responsible, c) recognizing them and knowing them by name. You never know who knows who, but even if they know no one, it will make your stay at school all the better!
Keep in touch with your old High School friends at the different schools they have gone to. Again, your network will only grow this way and you’ll enjoy yourself more.
Networking is critical to your success … throughout life. So if you haven’t networked well before, read about it, hire a coach, watch people that do it well. This skill will serve you well throughout your life!
Networking Off-Campus: Don’t Forget To Follow-up
Posted By Caroline Ceniza-Levine
Networking isn’t about quantity; it’s about quality. I agree with Connie that we all know more people than we realize and that we have numerous opportunities to meet new people everyday. Just don’t forget that after you meet them, unless you maintain and expand these relationships, these people aren’t really part of your core network. Networking isn’t just about approaching people; it’s about following-up.
If you plan to add someone to your network over the long term, you should plan to follow up with them several times a year. Asking for help or just talking about yourself doesn’t count. Aim to follow up in a way that focuses on them and what you can do for them, not the other way around. Here are some ideas:
Say thank you. Thank them for that call, meeting, or email correspondence that started your relationship.
Give a results update. If they gave you advice, tell them what you did with it.
Send an article. Pick something about their industry and company, and it shows you are on top of news that matters to them.
Congratulate. Did they make one of those business magazine top lists (e.g., Most Innovative, Most Admired, Best Places to Work)? If you hear good news about them or their company, point it out.
Make a recommendation. If you read a good book, try a good restaurant, etc, pass that on (make sure to keep it professional as your referrals are always a reflection on you).
Wish holiday greetings. Happy Holidays or Happy New Year are perfect annual follow-up opportunities.
I’ve just given you 6 ways to follow-up that don’t involve imposing on people with requests about you. Now you have no excuse not to grow and maintain your network.
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