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Networking while being a student: the why and the how?

There is a lot you will learn as a student, but your typical university class may not cover something like networking. Developing your professional network means engaging with professionals in your field. These can be experts, CEOs, and even professors. Building the right connections early on will help you in your career search down the road. 

The knowledge you acquire in school is crucial, but it will only get you so far. Who you can share that knowledge with is what will help you progress. Developing your professional network while being a student is all about who you know, not what you know. 

Why Network?

Networking means you get to know the right people in the right places. Using professional networking tools at your disposal has many benefits for your professional and social life.

Building Industry Connections

Building relationships and connections within your industry will help you reach your goals. You can strengthen these connections by helping others out. In turn, you will have a support system within the industry you can rely on.

Advice, Guidance and Progress

The best people to guide you through your career are those who have already been where you are. You should be able to get advice from more experienced individuals regarding handling challenges or new opportunities

Finding New Opportunities

Meeting and building relationships with new people opens you up to new job opportunities. This can be especially useful when you’re fresh out of school and job hunting, but it doesn’t end there. You may meet people who might offer you a better position than your current one. 

How to Start Building a Strong Professional Network

There is definitely some effort that goes into building a strong professional network. As a student, you are working from scratch. The goal is to meet with and cultivate strong professional relationships with various individuals from your industry. You should start by making yourself easy to find.

Become Visible on Social Media

Your online presence in the age of technology is your bread and butter. Maintaining social media presence makes you visible to others in your industry. This is no longer limited to professional sites like LinkedIn. Nearly all social media tools have become ways for professionals to connect and get to know each other. 

Your social media presence should also be a positive image of who you are. Potential recruiters or other professionals want to know you can be a strong, serious addition to their network. Be mindful of how you choose to portray yourself online. Done right, you can build great connections remotely.

Engage and Re-engage

Connections, and especially those curated online, aren’t a one-time deal. You are unlikely to be able to build any kind of relationship by simply adding someone to your friend list. Even meeting someone once at an event and hoping they remember you is highly ambitious. Networking means staying in constant contact. 

This can include sharing tips on common industry problems with each other or even just reaching out for advice. Don’t go overboard with your attempts by constantly hounding the other person. However, don’t let the connection fade out, either. Networking happens when both parties are able to trust each other and rely on one another’s abilities. 

Utilise Shared Interests and Networking Opportunities

Affinity groups that bring together people with similar interests are a great opportunity for networking. It gives you a starting point to build a connection, and things can take off from there. Such groups can exist outside of your school and work, which give you better opportunities to expand your circle. 

Many companies also often organise networking events. You can often find them advertised on their social media pages. Replace a night of partying with one of these young professional networking events. They are a great opportunity to meet the right people and find potential career advancement options.

Use University Networking Resources 

As a student, you have access to your university’s career centre. They help you improve your career options and offer you opportunities. Make sure to visit the centre and get advice from experienced individuals who can guide you in your career. 

Such centres can help you build and improve your CV. There are also many opportunities to avail, as they can keep you in the loop regarding internships and upcoming job fairs. University career centres have connections that you can utilise to network better.

Build your network

There is no doubt that networking is the gateway to career opportunities. As a student, building connections that can help you once you enter the job market is especially important. Professional networking isn’t just about finding new or better jobs. It can also help you improve and build yourself. This, in turn, should help you become a more effective contributor in the professional walk of life.