Student’s Guide to Networking

Tips and Tricks to Guide You

in Your Professional Development

As a college student, you may wonder how you’re going to land that dream job after graduation. Here are some great tips that you can start doing now to build your contact list. Have you heard the saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”? Your college classes and internship experience will certainly help; however, the right people in your professional network may help you get your foot in the door at the company of your dreams.

  • The Golden Rule of Networking: Work for your network. Don’t look at networking with the idea of “what can it do for me?” Like most things in life, what you get out of your network depends on what you put into it first. The most powerful network is the one that is made up of people who you owe favors.
  • Remember that everyone else in the room has sweaty palms, too. Concentrate on making other people feel at ease, not on your own insecurities.
  • Name tags help. Wear your name tag on your right side, as close to your face as possible, with your first name printed as large as possible. Always include your last name.
  • If you can afford it, create your own business cards. Include information such as first and last name, email address, phone number and any professional social media links. Carry a stack to every event and keep them handy.
  • Learn to “work the room.” Don’t gravitate toward people you already know well. Don’t sit with people who you have a relationship with. And don’t sit until you have to. Make it your goal to meet at least 10 new people at every event. You will get better every time you practice.
  • Develop and rehearse a 30-second “elevator speech” that answers the most common question at any networking event: “What do you do?” It should include two to three sentences that describe who you are, what school you go to, what you are studying and your plans for the future. For example, “Hi, I’m Alice Jones. I’m a senior at Eastern Michigan University studying public relations. I’m graduating in April 2012. I’m currently interning at Skidmore Studios. I’m planning on working in media relations after graduation.”
  • As soon as meeting new contacts, follow up with the person. Send a short note or email to strengthen the initial contact. Your first follow-up should a friendly, thank you and nothing else.
  • Maintain contact. Consider connecting on LinkedIn or another social media site. You can also send links to articles that might interest them.
  • List your student associations or other organizations you’re involved with in your LinkedIn profile, so others can find you. Provide links to your personal web site, blog or other social media profiles. Warning: Do not link if there is information that you don’t want potential employers to know about!
  • Join groups in social networks, and then join discussions. Provide information such as links to articles that would interest the group, and respond to the questions and comments of others.
  • Make sure you’re engaging with others, not using social media as a broadcast medium. Commenting on other people’s blogs and re-tweeting and responding to other people’s tweets will do more to build relationships than writing long posts that no one reads or sending a series of one-way tweets.
  • Lastly, do not burn bridges. Keep friendly contact with your peers and internship supervisor. You never know if/when you will run into them again in your professional career. A bad experience in the past could possibly harm you in the future.

*Adapted from the article, “Power Networking Tips” by Barbara Gibson, ABC.

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