As a college student, you’re networking all of the time, even if you don’t realize it. Every time you attend a meeting for Yearbook Club or grab coffee with a friend, you’re strengthening relationships with people. But when it comes to this whole “professional” networking thing, you might be a little intimidated.
However, building that professional network while in school is very important. So, instead of avoiding it, find more comfortable ways to network. Here are a few easy ways to build your network while in college (even if you HATE networking):
1. Get an internship.
You’ll probably want to get an internship while you’re in school anyway to build experience, but have you ever thought about using it to grow your professional network? An internship is a great opportunity to meet people in your field without forcing conversation at a random event. Take advantage of this!
2. Leverage LinkedIn.
If you really struggle meeting new people in person, ease into it by inviting people to connect on LinkedIn first. Figure out what companies you’d love to work for in your area, then reach out to a couple of employees and ask to connect. From there, start a conversation via LinkedIn messenger. It’s so easy!
3. Get to know your professors.
You professors likely have a large network of people in their field. Why not tap into that? Make an effort to get to know your professors. If you can build strong, genuine professional connections with them, they will be more inclined to introduce you to people or recommend opportunities.
4. Attend career fairs.
Career fairs can be overwhelming, but if you go in with a strategic plan of attack, you can use them as a great networking opportunity. Instead of sneaking your resume on every table in the room, see if you can get your hands on the list of employers who will be attending so you can figure out who you want to talk to and why. Research these companies before striking up conversation so you have talking points and can make a connection with the representatives.
Networking takes practice, but it doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. If you need more help with your networking strategy, book an appointment with Longwood University Career Services.