It can be difficult to break into the professional world post college graduation but having a strong network of people who can help you out will make the process much easier. Learning the essentials of how to network is a key first step in finding a job. Read on to learn a few tips for recent college grads. Remember, people are very willing to assist as you start out in your career, and acknowledge that you need guidance, so tap into these resources.
How, you may ask?
Research and Get Involved with Professional Organizations.
There are many professional organizations that can help you meet others in your field of interest to educate yourself and learn more about your chosen career. Getting involved with one or more of these organizations is a great way to start building your network. Research the resources and associations that are out there, to find the best fit for you.
Attend Industry Events; And Leverage your Age.
Industry events are another great way to meet other professionals and learn more about your chosen career. These events are often open to the public, so be sure to check them out. Do your research on who will be attending and be intentional when you are there. Start with putting a list together to source events – friends of friends, previous internships you have held, your parents’ friends, college resources. Email outreach to professionals in your line of work for informational interview purposes. Be strategic with your approach. People are more than willing to help, so leverage your age too.
There are many online networking platforms that can help you connect with other professionals in your field. LinkedIn is a great place to start. Develop and optimize your professional profile on LinkedIn. Take advantage of Alumni Groups and connect with those in your chosen career. Don’t be afraid to ask for informational interviews, and to introduce yourself.
Volunteering is a great way to network, and to help with your job search. Give back to your community. If you are starting a job search and feeling ‘stuck’, giving of your time not only helps to build connections, but also gives you purpose and structure to your day. There are many organizations that are always in need of volunteers, so find one that aligns with your interests and get involved.
Actively Engage with Your Faculty.
Your college professors likely have many contacts themselves, make sure they know you! Introductions they may have for you are highly valuable. Utilize them. Consider faculty other than your immediate professors, and your school’s career counseling services too. It’s important to keep your options open when it comes to networking. Introduce yourself. Talk to recent graduates who are established in their careers. You never know when or where you’ll meet someone who could help further your career, so always be prepared to make new connections. Consider a part time job related to your field of interest, or internship. These are always valuable experiences and continue to build your network.
Get a Career Mentor.
A career mentor is a strong asset. In addition to assisting in preparing you for a career, a long-term mentor helps with professional development. There are many types of mentors to consider, formal and informal mentoring programs, as well as career coaching. It’s important to understand the difference between a career coach and a mentor. Coaches can help with a specific professional skill and charge a fee to work with; mentors work on a pro-bono basis. Consider peer mentoring, as well as 5 year and 10 year mentors.
Understand the overall impact and value of networking. You will learn by networking. You will gain expert advice and tips from others. Use it to enhance your career. Don’t be afraid to make the first move, remember, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Always follow up to any introduction or conversation that you have, PROMPTLY. Thank people for their time. That old saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is very relevant. It can be difficult to break into the professional world and find that first job. Networking and developing soft skills are essential to jumpstart your career. In summary, preparation is key, ask for help, introduce yourself, ask questions and listen, create your online presence, follow up, and keep on networking!