Believe it or not, the term “networking” isn’t just something people on LinkedIn throw around to sound important or intelligent. If you’re new to the term, it’s simply a professional way of saying, “making friends and professional connections” with people interested or working in the same areas of study as you are no matter what your experience level is.
Nowadays, many college students just use social media to further connect with friends, family, and professionals who have our dream job. When I started seriously pursuing journalism as my major, Twitter was my favorite way to get in touch with fellow writers, editors, and other students at both my own university and others. Looking back, although I had several valuable internships using my journalism skills, I probably should’ve attended more actual in-person networking events available to me through my university. When it comes to networking, it’s important to not only start early in your college career, but to take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way to meet like-minded people.
When it comes to your future, make networking your best friend. The connections you make are the people who can help further your career during or after college.
1. It Could Help You Find An Internship
Thanks to LinkedIn and Twitter, I found at least three of my college internships by networking with the editors of the magazines I was interested in. When you engage in tweets posted by the people you’re interested in, you never know where it might lead. Potential employers love seeing that an internship or job candidate already shows interest in their company. If you were the employer, would you hire the person who only submitted an application, or the person who interacted with you on online too? If you end up with a job or internship, or even just an unpaid side gig on the weekends doing what you’re studying, that’s the best way to learn and to be better prepared for when you find your permanent career.
2. You Will Learn More
Networking with individuals interested or working in a similar field of interest as you will allow you to learn more about your field that you might not normally deal with. You will learn more details of opportunities, ways of doing things, all while getting peer support. Build a strong enough of a connection and you could have a potential reference for future research or professional growth.
3. It Could Lead To a Job
Did you know 70-80% of jobs aren’t advertised? Most are found through networking. Remember the saying, it’s not always what you know, but who you know? Well, get to know more people and more opportunities might come knocking! Especially if you connect on LinkedIn, chances of finding a job are really high. Or, your connections could very well become a person of reference for your next interview! You never know!
Start networking early. If you start while you’re still a college student, you will have a great advantage come graduation.