College: a time for partying, enjoying life, and not having a care in the world.
Wrong… kind of.
While you should definitely make the most your college years (after all, you’ll probably only be there once), it is also important to focus on what lies ahead.
College is the gateway to your career, not only because of the education you are receiving, but also because of the potential contacts you can make. Yes, we’re talking about networking.
What Is Networking?
Networking is the use of ones personal, professional, or academic connections to aid in ones professional advancement. Networking can provide insight on potential job opportunities, help one learn more about their field of interest, or help further one’s career goals.
Networking can work wonders for ones career, but it needs to be done properly. Creating a meaningful and successful network requires building genuine, mutually beneficial relationships.
Forget awkward introductions at cocktail parties or unsolicited emails to the new guy upstairs; nurture the relationships you already have, and only seek out new alliances if they are purposeful and genuine.
How you network can make or break your potential for creating career-boosting contacts.
Networking in College
College is actually one of the best settings for networking.
It gives you the chance to connect with professionals in your desired field of work, such as your course professors; they can provide you with valuable advice, or even referrals.
You will also find yourself surrounded by other students studying in the same field as you. Connecting with other students can give you a unique perspective on certain topics and can increase your opportunity pool.
Advice, referrals, and opportunities are the core reasons why networking in college is so important; it can play a crucial role in your professional success.
It’s hard to know the ins and outs of a field, a situation, or a job, when first entering it. By connecting and conversing with individuals with established experience in these areas, you stand to gain useful advice on what to do (or not do) and how to do it.
This can help you avoid unnecessary mistakes and stand out amongst your potential competitors.
A genuine referral from someone with stature or distinction in your desired field of work can be worth more than gold.
Referrals speak not only of your professional capabilities, but also highlight your positive qualities as a person. It shows your prospective employer that the individual writing the review sees potential in you.
This is probably the most significant benefit of networking.
Forming relationships with equals in your field can broaden your knowledge of potential job openings. Forming relationships with superiors in your field can help you stand out as a desirable candidate for positions they may have an influence in filling.
Either way, having a network of individuals in your field will afford you more job opportunities than if you did not have any professional connections.
Start Building Your Network Now
It may seem intimidating but there are many simple and effective ways to network throughout your college years.
The extra effort now will only benefit you in the future.
Networking can help further your career; give you insight and new perspective; help you realize your goals, both professionally and personally; and leave you with lasting and meaningful relationships.