Guest post by Troy Adams
A solid network of professional individuals can help you find jobs before they’re advertised to the general public. During your time at college, you can give yourself a head start on your job search if you learn how to network with the right people. From creating a pitch to seeking student jobs, you should begin your networking endeavors now.
1. Create Your Pitch
Before you can network successfully, you need to create a pitch that helps your contacts quickly learn more about you. Your pitch should include your educational background, accomplishments, skills and professional goals. Your speech should only last for about 20 to 30 seconds. Don’t let your pitch sound like a dry reading of your resume; put a little flavor into it to make it more memorable. You should practice giving this speech so that you’ll feel confident and ready to use it at any moment.
2. Attending College Networking Events
Your college doesn’t host networking events just to fill empty dates on the campus calendar. Use these opportunities wisely to get yourself known in your desired professional field. Before attending, prepare yourself by performing some research on each of the attendees. During your research, think of some questions that you can ask these representatives. Make sure your questions show that you know about the attendee’s industry and are genuinely interested in learning more.
Don’t forget to perfect your pitch before attending a networking event. You should also bring along business cards with your contact information. If you establish a good rapport with an attendee, consider sending them an email later to continue your conversation. You may end up forming a lasting professional relationship that helps you in your future career.
3. Work with Your Existing Network
You may think that you don’t have any useful contacts in your personal network. However, even friends, neighbors and family members can help you reach out to businesses. Let these individuals know more about the type of opportunities that you are seeking. These contacts will probably not be able to hire you right after college, but they may remember to pass your name around their own professional network.
4. Learn How to Network Online
Social media continues to expand its reach into daily life and can even help people find jobs. Learning how to use social media responsibly while attending school can greatly increase your networking opportunities. Keep your social media profiles updated with relevant information about your education and your career goals. Each time you attend a networking event on campus, look online for contact information for each attendee. If you choose to share your profiles, make sure to refrain from posting photos of your crazy weekend parties.
5. Look for Student Jobs
Getting more experience in your desired professional field will help you gain even more contacts in your growing network. Look for relevant student jobs that will also help you build your resume. Although these jobs won’t pay you very much, you’ll discover a learning experience that is impossible to replicate in the classroom. Volunteering is another way to gain relevant experience while juggling the demands of your education. Through volunteering, you can sample a number of different fields and jobs without devoting too much time to the endeavor. You’ll also accumulate more contacts for your future employment search and boost your resume.
Networking plays a critical role in securing a job, especially for students who enter the job market with little job experience. Through solid networking efforts during your time at college, you’ll have plenty of contacts to help you find the right job after you graduate.
Author Byline: Troy Adams is a recent University of Alberta graduate that owes his current success to social networking.