Regardless of their academic majors, students are constantly reminded of the “importance of networking” and that “networking is the key to success.” While this may be true, when a singular word is constantly tossed our way without much clarification, we don’t know what to do with it. What is effective networking? Does it mean that we have to be best friends with every acquaintance in our respective fields? What is the best strategy to network in today’s business world?
These questions highlight the hazy idea that accompanies the word “networking” because it could hold so many different definitions. That is why Kristen DeWolf, associate director of corporate development in Whitman’s Career Services, provided a practical explanation of what networking ought to mean for students:
LinkedIn—More Than An Online Resume
LinkedIn is a powerful business networking and social media channel that many students overlook as another means to promote their resumes. This is most likely because students are taught to open a LinkedIn account, but not to actually utilize it and the features it offers.
- Make Use of Groups
Groups allow LinkedIn users to not just connect online with people they meet in person, but to also expand connections through online interaction. There are hundreds of groups to choose from based on your interest, education, previous connections or past work experience. By joining an appropriate and relevant group, you can drastically expand your network in a short time. Just for Syracuse University alone, there is:
Connects you with career advice from SU alumni. It’s specifically intended to create lasting personal connections between students and alumni.
- Alumni of the Whitman School of Management
A network of all Whitman School graduates in order to foster professional relationships.
- Syracuse University Alumni Network
Connects students and graduates of Syracuse University in a social networking forum.
- Actually Interact
It’s one thing to join groups and keep your profile updated, but it is another to actively participate in dialogues on the platform. You can post on message boards, comment on articles and participate in discussions. A lot of students forget that LinkedIn is a social network—it encourages outward interaction between its users. You cannot expect that recruiters will simply stumble upon your profile if you don’t stay active enough to get noticed. By participating in these conversations, you share more about yourself than any resume could describe.
- Get an Inside Look
One of the nicest benefits LinkedIn provides for job hunters is that you can actually see who from a company posted a job listing on the website. This allows you to personally contact the recruiter who posted the job listing and start a dialogue that way. Take advantage of the little efforts that can go a long way.
But, Everyone Knows How To Use LinkedIn…
While a powerful tool, LinkedIn isn’t the only strategy for expanding your network. Syracuse and Whitman are incredible resources for establishing new connections, hosting frequent networking and career events specifically to benefit students. Professors serve as terrific mentors, as well, sharing their personal networks of connections with students who show interest. Don’t overlook these amazing opportunities that are so easily accessible right now.
Alumni connections are amazing and commonly untapped tools that help students to get a foot in the door at a company. DeWolf emphasizes the importance of hitting a job from multiple angles. Apply with your resume and cover letter, but also identify a recruiter at the company and initiate a dialogue. Then, contact a handful of alumni currently or previously employed at the company. The more angles you tackle, the better your chances are that someone will drop your resume will drop on the desk of employer with a good recommendation.
Perseverance is key, but don’t get overwhelmed by attempting to master every networking strategy. There are so many tactics for “networking,” but choosing 3 to 4 solid strategies and routinely continuing to build your relationships make the entire concept of “networking” a bit easier to swallow.
For more information, contact Kristen DeWolf or Career Services in the Whitman School of Business, Suite 115.
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