When launching a career, many students hear the phrase: “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” It doesn’t mean that you will build your career through the connections only. However, a strong network is fundamental for the successful beginning of your employment journey. There are several reasons for that.
Why Students Should Network?
First of all, networking raises your chances to win job competitions. Usually, graduates do not have much job experience, and ‘rich’ resumes to attract employers. Meanwhile, the competition is huge, and there are a lot of applicants with practically same skills and education diplomas. Then how can you stand out among other employees? The connections with people who can give you positive recommendations as well as advise you on job application.
Secondly, lots of employers today rely on their networks to fill the vacant position. Having wide network of the right connections, you have a chance to learn first about attractive job opportunity, be informed on company requirements and be ahead of other applicants. So, the right network can open the doors to the dream company. The research shows that today networking results in 60%-80% of all job offers.
Thus, students who spend years in college focusing solely on studies are losing the vast opportunities of building strong connections. Fortunately, networking can be learnt as any other skill and is available for everyone. Let’s take a look at the most helpful networking tips.
How to Network via Social Media:
Though there are a lot of job resources today, college students should not ignore social media as a job search tool. Social media has opened up new networking doors. Now, you can reach people anywhere, not just at career fairs and industry events.
To network via social media successfully, follow several simple rules;
- Use different social media channels. Though LinkedIn is aimed to establish professional connections, you should use other social profiles like Facebook and Twitter to network successfully. The thing is people have different social media preferences, so using different social media raises your chances to reach the people you want.
- If you want to add someone to your friends network, standard ‘please add me’ message or ‘add friend’ button is not enough. Write personal messages introducing yourself and explaining why you want to connect with a person.
- Remember to be professional. Up until now, social media may have been a tool to stay in touch with friends and family, but now it should be considered as a powerful job search tool. According to a recent survey, nearly 95% of hiring professionals check social media during recruitment.
- Use social media to research your prospective employer. You’ll gain a lot more valuable information than the official website provides. This will come in handy during an interview.
Social Media Don’ts:
- Don’t label yourself as a “job seeker” or “unemployed.” You are a professional—no matter what your current employment status is. Once you’ve graduated, try something like “finance graduate with an interest in international banking.”
- Don’t just chat with people you already know. Though connections have to be supported, you should extend your network and build new relationships.
- Establish new connections without inflicting pressure. Don’t expect immediate reply, and do not bother your potential connections with daily follow up messages
How to Network via Email:
Sending emails is a great way to find new acquaintances, discuss opportunities or follow up with connections made on social media. Again, there are things you should keep in mind.
- Use an eye-catching subject line. Getting potential contacts to open your message will be the biggest hurdle of the networking process. According to email experts, a subject line that combines a personal touch with the implication of quick action yields a 93% open rate. Try something like, “Following up from Thursday’s career fair,” or, “John Doe from Iowa State University seeking a job shadow.”
- Be short and sweet. Briefly describe yourself and state your request. Make your message easy to skim.
- Include a ‘call to action’ so that your relations could develop. Specific request or suggestion will be more productive than just an introductory letter. Suggest to arrange a phone interview or a meeting to discuss certain questions.
Email Networking Don’ts:
- Don’t forget to introduce yourself. It seem efficient to get right to the point, but take a few lines to tell who you are.
- Don’t forget to bolster the addressee ego a bit. Mention why you decided to contact a person, which accomplishments you admire, or highlight something that impressed you.
- Don’t start your email with, “To Whom it May Concern.” Networking requires personal approach and may not refer to whoever is willing to reply to your generic inquiry.
Where to Find Contacts:
Knowing who to talk to is just as important as knowing what to say. Here are some tips and tricks for locating the ideal networking contacts.
- Look for non-conventional ways to network. Volunteer at events, join student societies, attend lectures, or check out local entrepreneur clubs.
- Use your existing contacts. Ask people you know for introductions.
- Establish connections with college staff. There are ways to make connections with professors without breaking the hierarchy. Professors authoritative meaning can be definitely helpful when it comes to job or internship recommendations.
Final Networking Don’ts:
- Don’t assume all networks are built the same way. Everyone has a preferred method of communication. Figure out the best way to reach out.
- Don’t be afraid of in-person meet-ups. Networking isn’t bound to the internet despite what our digital world has lead you to believe.
- Don’t turn social events into a business meeting. Not every introduction is the prime time for extensive networking. Get the introduction and then connect on a deeper level later.