If I have learned anything from my college transition into my adult life, it has been that networking has been my best friend in the job world. It has forced me to embrace a professional language and how to find new opportunities that could lead to professional and personal development. And if you are in your 20’s, there is nothing more important. Below are some of my favorite rules when trying to create new connections. After all, networking never truly ends.
First, get out of your head and treat yourself like the professional you are becoming.
Assume the job is your classroom and every person at an event is your classmate, and you are the new kid. – This helps brings professionals down to your level in your head and therefore lessen the pressure or intimidation. Introduce yourself. Be confident, without being too forward. Start talking and get to know the lingo and insights to their professional, personal blended lifestyles. After all, once graduation comes, you will also be a professional, in their class.
Pro tip: There will usually be someone who is kind and will help pull you into groups. Find that inclusive person and don’t forget to be that person when a new student is looking to you for confidence and guidance.
Speaking of events, don’t forget to attend them.
Be aggressive when it comes to this research. Whatever your major or career goals, sign up for groups related to your studies, whether it’s through school or online organizations. Most will have events, either paid or for a fee, that you can keep on your radar. The more you go to, the more chances you have of running into people you could possible work with. And don’t forget to have fun with this part of networking. I have let it become exhausting as I go in knowing its part of the job and forget it’s exactly what I wanted to do before it became my actual job.
Be active on your LinkedIn, and other social media.
Through the years, I have added everyone I have worked for and with to LinkedIn, as well as their professional social media accounts if they had one. Even after I left, I was still active in commenting and engaging with certain posts while keeping my profiles professional. Now I am a few years into my career and can still call my former internship supervisors for advice. This also helps them remember your name when an opportunity comes up, even if its not with their company.
Don’t forget your ‘Please’ and ‘Thank You’s.’
If you are going to add someone to your LinkedIn after meeting them at an event, why would you take time to also acknowledge a mentor who has given you career advice. Even if you have connected online, take the extra step and send people in your network handwritten notes. It could be a ‘Thank You’ for an internship opportunity or even a simple holiday card to remind them you still appreciate their connection.