Whenever anyone asks me the most important thing I learned in my four years of college, I tell them the importance of networking. Networking can range from small things like building relationships with your professors to bigger things like emailing an executive at your dream company.
I have always been a great networker, simply because I enjoy building relationships. I just never realized how beneficial it could be for my professional career. The first time I truly saw the advantage of networking was over a simple tweet two years ago. The university always brings significant corporate representatives to campus multiple times a semester. One semester in particular, a communications executive from a Fortune 500 company came to campus. I wanted to sit in on his discussion but unfortunately had a conflict with a class. Despite the conflict, I tweeted at him about possibly meeting for coffee in his spare time. He was so shocked and impressed by my forwardness that he invited me to lunch, which ultimately turned into an interview and now a great mentor for me.
I am not saying that every time you reach out that it will lead to a job or an interview, but it will get you one step closer. When approached in the right way, professionals love helping students. I have gotten interviews, job offers, and amazing connections just because I took the initiative to reach out. I believe success is a combination of what you know and who you know and there is no better recipe than a great undergraduate degree and a long list of contacts.
Networking Rules to Remember:
- Be professional: A well-written email or LinkedIn message can go a long way.
- Ask for advice not a job: When you are genuine in your approach, people are more willing to help.
- Don’t pass up any opportunity to network: Never underestimate what someone can do for you.. you never know who they might know.
- Be persistent and do not let a connection die out: Always keep in touch with old contacts.. they may come in handy one day!