Networking Tips for Students and Young Professionals

Being the “new kid” is never a good feeling. And the task of networking only becomes more daunting as you reach the college level. Yet, being by yourself isn’t going to get you anywhere in life, and sometimes you need to fine-tune your networking skills. 

But how do you network in college? There are many components of networking that you can master that will help even the most introverted students find their place within their own professional network.

In this article, you’ll learn about how to shift your mindset and hone skills that will help you yo network in college, and beyond. 

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Have The Proper Mindset For Networking

In order to build a powerful effective network, you will need to have the right mindset. You will be focusing on initiating relationships in a generous and authentic way. In other words, what can you give rather than what’s in it for yourself? 

The best way to go about this is to build connections with people you are genuinely interested in. This method is a long-term plan but it is designed to build collaborative relationships. 

You shouldn’t be spamming or begging for jobs every day, but getting to know these people through chats, posts, and other industry topics. 

Effective networking is a long-term goal that leads to trust. Within that trust, you will find some very powerful connections.

For example. If you are going to college for website building, you may want to connect with an awesome graphic designer. This is a mutual connection that may come in handy down the road. Because many graphic designers often have clients that need website building services. 

Spruce Up Your Website, Blog, Or Social Media Page

First impressions are everything. When you network with others they are often connected to you via some form of digital platform. This is the perfect place to start if you are an introvert.

Making sure your professional website, blog or any other social media pages are current is ideal to give those you are networking with a true sense of yourself. Places like LinkedIn are a perfect place to start.

Make sure that when you do connect with others you are engaging with their content. Leave regular comments and suggest they leave some on your own posts. You could even tag them on a hot topic within the industry and ask for their insight or opinion. 

Staying active online and keeping your content fresh will not only help grow your connections but can keep you up to date with what’s going on in your network. Employers are now even double-checking social media platforms before the hiring process. Therefore, social media is more essential than ever

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Create a Snazzy Business Card

Even though the pandemic has brought in-person to a minimum it can still come in handy to have some printed materials on hand. Business cards are by far the easiest. They are also still very popular. Because they can also easily be mailed, having your own professional business card is a must for networking

Things your business card needs:

  • Full name
  • Job title
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Website or portfolio links
  • Summary or objective

Tips for effective networking business cards

Keep it simple. First impressions are everything and a good business card should highlight your skills and expertise. Don’t be afraid to leave white space to prevent it from being too busy.

Have separate care for each industry. For example, if you build websites and offer graphic design services, make sure you have a card for each service. 

Have a call to action. Even something as simple as “let’s hop on a call this week.” 

Always have your business cards on you. And don’t be afraid to offer two cards at the same time.

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Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Help

One of the best parts about networking is that you have an array of knowledge at your fingertips. Many people that you will network with throughout your career will be able to offer expert advice. So don’t be afraid to ask for them when you need to. 

There is no shame in recognizing your weaknesses. In fact, it’s a great way to grow. It can also be a great way to make new connections. But you won’t know unless you ask.

However, even when asking for help, keep in mind the give more than you take concept. Be helpful with your knowledge and support those within your network when you can.

Pro Tip: When asking questions, be sure to listen to the answers. If someone is being kind enough to share their knowledge and insight, you should be giving them your full attention.

Always Follow-Up With People

Networking doesn’t end with you leave the event. Networking is something that takes time, effort, and some following up after. Be prepared to follow up with people for as long as you have a networking relationship with them. 

Pro Tip: If you reach out on LinkedIn, be sure to personalize the invitation as a reminder of where you met. 

Following up is important to continue to grow your professional relationship with your network. Make sure to create a reason to keep the relationship going and try to touch base with connections a few times throughout the year

Another perfect way to follow up with a connection is to send out a personal thank you message. This helps to remind your network connection of what you talked about. A small gesture can go a long way.

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Get Started Networking Now

While being new in college may be a daunting task, networking properly will help not only to boost your friend circle but will help you to make lasting professional connections that will grow with you throughout your career. 

Some key takeaways are:

  • Be genuine with your interest and your connections.
  • Be giving of knowledge.
  • Always be prepared. 
  • Stay in touch with your connections. 

Now you are ready to go out and begin networking!

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