Student Networking: Tips For Networking While In School

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016
student networking

“It’s who you know, not what you know”

Many of us have heard this phrase more than once in our lives,  and it tends to be a frustrating statement. Being a student and hearing this has a significant influence on our job search and sometimes our confidence.  But don’t fret, there are some great ways you can start building your networking while you’re in school.  One thing I ask you to remember is when you are networking, do not ask for a job.  Our goal here is to build our network, and a benefit of your network is that  it can lead to employment!

#1:  Your Parents have a great network!

Oh no, parents!  So uncool.  Not really, parents have a significant network that they have been building for years.  Utilize this network. Your parents have friends that can help you in your job search, reach out and connect with them. Talk to your parents, see who they know that may be some help in your career search and building your overall network.  Your parents can help!

#2: Create a LinkedIn Profile, and be sure to USE it!

LinkedIn is an awesome resource to build your network and meet professionals in your industry.  Its an easy to use tool and building a profile will not take your very long,  in fact they walk you through the process very easily, join here https://www.linkedin.com/.  Many people underutilize their LinkedIn profiles,  which results in a lack of updated information when people in your field search are searching out candidates ( and yes that happens), and that does not showcase a great first impression.
Using or updating your LinkedIn can keep increase your search findings and allows updates about yourself to show in others LinkedIn feeds.  Using and updating your profile will help increase your chances of showing up in searches and your updates will show up in your connections LinkedIn Feeds.
When looking to connect with people on LinkedIn, search for companies you would like to work for and on their company LinkedIn pages you can see who is working there, also search for recruiters or recruiting companies, not only can you connect with them but they post career advertisements often.

#3:Research, Research, Research!

When starting to grow your network it helps to conduct some research.  This can include who you want to talk to, what companies are out there, what opportunities are in your field, and what events are happening in your community. There are many excellent resources that can help you in your research, yes Google is an excellent start, key word searching allows to you get accurate results pretty quickly, however you can also try such websites and http://www.canada411.ca/, the Yellow pages Online is a whole business directory where you can search by location and business category, a phone number or web page is all you need to connect.  As well you can again utilize LinkedIn to help you in your search for businesses. To find events near you, you can also use Facebook events, Eventbrite   or even Twitter.
This leads into our next tip:

#4:Networking Events, get to as many as possible!

Networking events are very important in building a network.  Universities and Colleges tend to have networking events for their students, these events may have former alumni, industry leaders and other students.  Universities and Colleges also have speaker series, where speakers from different industries present.  There are also several committees and groups you can join that can help you meet several different people in your community.  As well, career fairs are an excellent way to build a network.  Several employers and recruitment companies have booths that you can approach and ask questions to.  You can also exchange business cards and contact them in the future.  These fairs also usually have a spot where people mingle and have some snacks.  Be sure to check out all aspects of these events! You can also visit specific organizations that host events, such as Fusion Halifax, they host such events as every second Thursday, Business Over Beers and several other events.  Fusion Halifax has many committees you can join, be sure to check out their website.

#5:Prepare an elevator pitch

It’s hard to talk about ourselves sometimes, but when you’re developing your network  talking about yourself is bound to happen.  So how do you talk about yourself when someone asks you about you, well we develop a short answer involving information about who you are, what you are studying and what your goal is after you graduate.  Here is a sample:
“Hello, My name is Jessica, I am really passionate about the engineering field and am currently in my fourth and final year of environmental engineering.  I hope that after I graduate I can begin my career working in the environmental industry working with engineering firms and community members alike to plan and develop sustainable environmental projects.”
Also remember that having this pitch ready is an excellent and quick way to talk about you, however, asking questions about who you are talking to as well opens up the conversation and allows for a great flow of information, as well as showing your interest in the person you’re speaking to.

#6:Don’t let your nerves get the best of you

When reaching out to a potential network, whether it be through social media, a cold call or in person, our nerves can get the better of us.  This can create inappropriate behavior, tripping on our words or not showing confidence when speaking to people.  When sending a message over LinkedIn, be sure to proofread, be polite and be sure to properly introduce yourself ( this is a great time for your elevator pitch).  When on the phone, be sure to again use your elevator pitch, discuss why you are calling, be polite and smile, they can sense that over the phone.  When you meet someone in person, nerves can again get the best of us, but remember to keep eye contact, smile, listen (don’t interrupt) and offer a handshake when you first meet them (if handshakes are something you are not comfortable with, politely decline, smile and ask a question).  Remember, being a little nervous is good, it means that this event in your life is very important to you, but if you find yourself becoming overly nervous or anxious take a few minutes to breathe and get yourself situated.  Everyone you talk to in your networking journey has been in your situation before.

#7:Try other unconventional methods to build your network

In today’s society new methods are appearing daily to help us do several different things, including building your network.  This can include using Facebook and Twitter as a networking platform, reaching out to friends or followers can help build your network.  As well, there are platforms such as NetWorkIt that allows you to connect to mentors in your field in the palm of your hand, on the go or sitting at home your network will grow.  Remember as well, that anyone you meet is a potential network, no connection is a bad connection
If you would like more information about NetWorkIt or have questions about our product please email us at networkit.today@gmail.com

Ashley Burke is the Owner and CEO of Run With It.  She currently works in the career development field and works hand in hand with recent graduates to help them in their job search. 

Author: The NetWorkIt Team

The NetWorkIt Team is based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. We work to create content and tools to help you succeed in your career.