Sarah Reynolds is a freelance writer residing in Alabama. She received her
BA in Communications at the University of South Alabama where she was a
member of the Phi Mu sorority. After competing in Miss Alabama USA, she
decided to continue to chase her dreams, travel the world and document the
Networking is a necessary requirement at all times in your life, but especially when you are in college. It is never too early to start preparing for your future career no matter what you’re studying. Knowing people in your designated field will simplify your life when applying for jobs close to your graduation date.
A great place to start is to join clubs and programs on campus relative to your intended field of study and actually participate in the activities. Engage with your peers, you never know who they may already know in the business. Campus clubs usually have guest speakers who come to interact with the future working class to guide and answer questions. Take advantage of the opportunities.
Look for professional organizations outside of your college. Majority of the time, these organizations host luncheons where you pay a small fee to come mingle with professionals already in the real world (and eat great food). Here is where you can truly make a memorable impression.
1. Look and dress the part. Be professionally dressed even if you are a broke college student.
2. Ask questions. However, never ask FOR something from someone you have just met like a referral (they don’t know you) or worse… a job. That professional will automatically put you in an undesirable zone because they think you are looking for a hand-out. Questions such as “How did you go about looking for a job?” and “What other organizations are you part of that I can join as well?” are great ice breakers.
3. Build relationships. Find common ground with the people you are networking with such as a hobby, kids, food you love. Be personable and someone they look forward to chatting with at the next event.
4. Connect. You can bring business cards with your contact information, estimated graduation date and major on them. It shows that you have drive and ready to tackle a career. Connect with the professionals you met on LinkedIn, especially the ones who gave YOU their contact information. Send a quick “Hello or hope you are well” email to stay fresh on people’s minds should an opportunity rise on their end.
Never underestimate the power of networking. You never know who you can even help out one day.