Networking: When Does That Happen?

Ask most people after they leave college and they’ll all tell you that networking was something they should have done more of. This isn’t a crazy coincidence, it’s proof that networking will give you an advantage early in your career and most people recognize this. When you’re first starting out you lack the experience other professionals have and oftentimes it helps to know the right people. Seek out opportunities while in school that will give you face time with professionals. Keep a look out for moments like these.

Class Lectures

Several times each semester your professor is going to bring in a speaker to discuss their work during a class. This is the perfect time to meet professionals in your field and exchange information. If they’ve taken the time to talk to your class they’re probably willing to help you out further if you put in the effort.  Otherwise they wouldn’t have come in to speak. So get up out of your seat at the end of the lecture and introduce yourself. The worst they can do is say no.

Speaking Engagements

Colleges love having guest speakers and conferences. It’s an opportunity for students to hear from successful professionals and to gain some valuable insight. Use this as an opportunity to network with someone you otherwise would have never met. Even if you are unable to meet face to face with them there are other ways to get in contact. Social media has done wonders for networking capabilities. Look for the speaker on Twitter or LinkedIn. If they are regular speakers it’s a good bet they are on these networks. Send them a message saying you saw their speech and have a few questions. This is a great way to begin a dialogue and to open doors for other opportunities. Again, the worst they can say is no.

Professors

It’s very likely your professors are still working in the industries they teach which means they know people. They are also the people you spend a great deal of time with every week. By getting to know them, and vice versa, they’ll be able to offer opportunities as they come. If you put forth effort and show interest you could be one of the first people they think of when someone asks them, “Got anyone that could help me out?”

Networking can happen at any time, not just the examples we provided. It’s a good idea to keep your eyes and ears open to these opportunities. When the chance happens take that moment to help yourself. Have the confidence to walk up and introduce yourself, it never hurts to try but you’ll never know what could have been if you don’t at least make the attempt.

Your college years are going to be time when professionals are most likely to help you and the most convenient time to find them. Take this time to reach out and make yourself known. This will help you create relationships that will benefit your career.