It’s human instinct to build a network. We are after all, social creatures. Our happiness level goes up when we spend time with others. However, building a network to help with a successful career launch after college takes a lot more than just instinct. Here are a few tips on how to build, and be part of, a power network.
Linked In Profile
This has been covered already in the “LinkedIn Profile” blog post so this will be brief. Have one.
Start Meaningful Internships
During your junior and senior year you need to stop taking college campus jobs and start getting yourself out into the work world. Before you graduate you need to be able to add a little bit of practical experience to your resume.
Once at your internship, working hard isn’t enough. You need to take the time to interact with your coworkers. If someone is doing a cool job that you think you’d like to have in the future, make an effort to bump into that person in the coffee break room or kitchen. Chat that person up for just a few minutes and be honest. Tell that person you think their job is cool and you’d like to learn more. Most people are flattered by this and are willing to talk about their work to a young person. Once there is a little rapport between you, ask the person if they would ever have time to go to lunch together. No, you aren’t asking for a free lunch here because you will pay for you own. Just go to lunch with this person to connect on a human level. Do this with multiple coworkers and at all your internships.
Once you have built a little bit of a relationship with your coworkers, use LinkedIn to send a connect request. LinkedIn is a powerful tool to stay connected with your network.
Once you are done with your internship immediately ask coworkers that you connected with for a recommendation on LinkedIn. Now the next step is where most people fail. After you get the recommendation, don’t just walk away and never contact these people again. About once a month send your network a personal message. Ask how an assignment is going. Ask how the family is doing. Send a link to an article about the industry that you found interesting. If you read an interesting book, recommend it.
Do this also with friends from high school and college friends. By the time you graduate you will have a nice solid network.