As a student who’s worried about getting a job after school, you know that it’s important to build your network. There are tons of opportunities out there, but you might not hear about them unless you know the right person. But networking is SO uncomfortable… right?

If you feel awkward at stuffy networking events, you’re not alone. The good news is that you actually network everyday without even realizing it! Here are a few networking activities that don’t feel like networking at all:

1. Chatting with your professor after class.

Your professors are walking rolodexes. They know tons of people in their field, so not only can they provide you with a recommendation but they can also introduce you to people, suggest companies to look into, and pass your name along to other people within their network.

Take a few minutes after your favorite classes to talk with your professors. Get to know them, share your enthusiasm for the work they’re involved in, and start building a professional relationship with them.

2. Grabbing a drink out with your friends.

In most cases, if you’re going to grab a drink somewhere, you’re probably going to end up meeting other people. This is a great way to break into new friend groups and expand your personal network. 

It doesn’t feel like networking necessarily, but when you go out, meet up with friends of friends, and have a good time, it’s a low-stress way to gain more connections. Who knows, those people you meet might know people who work at your dream company!

3. Volunteering for a good cause.

Did you know that helping others can actually help you, too? Whether you spend a couple hours a week volunteering at a soup kitchen or you’re a part of a group that raises money for charity, your volunteering efforts payoff in so many ways.

Building strong relationships with like-minded individuals of all ages is one of those amazing byproducts of volunteering. You get to know the people around you, you’re working together for a common goal, and you share values that connect you with them.

If you’re currently volunteering somewhere, make an effort to get to know the people who volunteer alongside you. If you don’t volunteer, take a minute today to find some local volunteer opportunities in your area.

If you need more help building your networking strategy, book an appointment with Longwood University Career Services and work with a career coach

About the Author

Ariella Coombs

Over the last 4 years, Ariella has been creating fun, yet educational blog posts and videos to help professionals build the career lifestyle they want. Her work has been featured in 12+ online publications, including TeenVogue, Business Insider, H&R Block, USA TODAY College, and more. One day, she hopes to host my own TV or web show for career-minded millennials.

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