How to Start Networking Now (While You're Still in School) |

How to Start Networking Now (While You're Still in School)

By Avery Phillips

Updated February 18, 2021 Updated February 18, 2021

There’s a reason they say it isn’t about what you know, but who you know, as networking is can be just as valuable to the success of your career as a degree.

Unfortunately, if you wait until after graduation to build your professional network, you’ll have waited too long. The best time to focus on establishing a network is actually while you’re still enrolled in classes.

How should you get started? Well, Rutgers University recommends being genuine, consistent, and noticeable in your pursuit of networking partners. Here are the five best ways to start networking while you’re still in school.

Use social networks for more than just Snapchat updates

We live in the digital age, and therefore it's important to stay connected on social media. Social networks have become a significant resource for college students to increase their networking bubbles. LinkedIn began offering a new option for college students in 2011, adding sections to profiles that allowed students with limited career experience to show the successes they’ve had in the classroom.

LinkedIn is one of the most important professional social networks, but social media sites like Twitter can also be useful when connecting with people you’ve never actually met before. Strategically connecting to them through platforms like Twitter provides the opportunity to keep in close contact with the network you’re working to create. By connecting with a company via Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter, you can keep track of job opportunities, since most companies post on their social media platforms when they’re hiring.

Build on your current network

The best way to build a solid network is to start with what you know, as people you’re already acquainted with can be used to expand your network. Introducing your contacts to each other builds up friendships and gives a greater chance of them then introducing you to their contacts.

Be proactive as a student about building new college relationships and staying in touch with older friends. The classroom can be the easiest way to gain connections while still in school. By moving around during the semester, you allow yourself to sit near different people in the classroom, introducing yourself each time you move. This can help you grow your network while building confidence and meeting new friends.

Make connections when on internship

Internships may be the most important and valuable tool available to you while you’re still in school. By taking advantage of this available resource while you’re in college, you can forge great relationships with not only potential employers but also potential mentors. Even if the offered internship is unpaid, it’s valuable because of the skills and experience you’ll gain from it.

Internships are often competitive, so brushing up on the best ways to land an internship can be helpful. The experience you gain from an internship is only part of their value, as employers often consider interns when hiring for full-time positions, meaning that an internship puts you ahead of others looking for jobs.

Make use of your school’s resources

There are a ton of career resources available at practically every college, including resume building, help with internship applications, and job search tools.

Utilizing student resources like peer mentorships and student government can also help broaden your range of contacts and relationships. You could also join an on-campus group or society, which will mean you’re more likely to stick out from the crowd. Extracurricular college experiences are valuable to a potential employer because they show you know how to balance many responsibilities at one time.

Colleges throw networking events at schools, often calling them “college fairs.” This is where potential employers set up booths to interact with students and talk to them about their company’s available positions. These types of events help you improve your people and communication skills, as well as make connections which could be important in your future career.

Join any available alumni associations

Creating beneficial relationships with your school’s alumnis is an important building block to the future of your career. By building up your network with an alumni association you not only connect to previous students now working in the professional world, but you also get insider information on what has worked for them in their pursuit of a professional position.

Start the conversation by asking for advice from a former student, and do your best to ensure you don’t come across as merely trying to get a favor from them.

Making the most of your own college’s networking opportunities not only improves your prospects of getting a job but also helps to expand your overall connections to the world. Focusing on networking as a part of your college experience is the best way to set yourself up for success after graduation. Start now and thank me later.

This article was originally published in April 2018 . It was last updated in February 2021

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