Networking tips for students: 8 tips to set yourself up for success
Updated: Sep 29, 2022
As a student, you’re likely aware that networking can set you up for future success. While it may be more natural to build connections with your professors and fellow classmates, a robust and diverse professional network can set you apart from your peers and aid in professional development down the line. Connecting with professionals aligned with not only your academic interests and passions, but personal as well, can help you navigate your career journey and connect you with new opportunities. But where and how do you start?
Here are 8 effective ways students can network
1. Be an active LinkedIn user
If you do not yet have a LinkedIn profile, now is the time to create one! By joining LinkedIn you will have thousands of potential professional connections at your fingertips. Here you can browse job postings, connect with and stay up to date on all things career related. How can LinkedIn help you network?
Ask people to connect! Don’t be afraid to ask someone you don’t know (yet) – but be sure to include a brief message explaining why you’d like to connect and your interest in their area of expertise!
Look for people with common interests and build from there. Reach out to alumni who attended your college and are in roles that interest you.
Search LinkedIn and follow hashtags from companies you’re interested in (#WeAreStryker and #StrykerInterns are two of ours), this will help you learn more about opportunities and the company culture at organizations that interest you.
Join LinkedIn groups that align with your professional interests.
Don’t be shy – engage with other users’ content by asking questions and starting conversations.
2. Leverage family and friend connections
There is an old adage that says, “it’s not what you know, but who you know”. While what you know is essential in obtaining and keeping an internship or job – who you know could put you in contact with the right people for you to showcase your expertise and earn the opportunity. You’re already likely spending most of your free time with friends and family, so take the time to actively express your professional goals and your desire to build your network. They may know the right person to connect you with to make your dreams a reality.
3. Utilize your university’s alumni network
Reach out to your university’s alumni network or association and introduce yourself, this is a great way to learn more about various industries and functions that you are interested in. Most professionals were in your shoes at one point in time and are happy to help the next generation learn the ins and outs of the workforce.
4. Build professional connections with your professors
Use your professor’s office hours to your advantage. Stop by to connect with them and talk about your future professional goals. University, college, and tech school instructors have experience in a variety of functions and industries and can be a valuable resource when building your network. With years of experience, they are typically well connected within their industry and can refer you to one of their colleagues with specific expertise.
5. Participate in case competitions
Several universities and employers host competitions for groups of students to innovate new solutions or ideas. This is a great way to gain direct exposure to employers while simultaneously meeting new students, professors, and professionals in the process. These friendly academic competitions are offered at several universities and are inclusive of nearly all majors. From sales to product development, engineering to computer science, companies love to see what the great minds and future leaders are innovating. Bonus – this looks great on a resume! 6. Seek out opportunities to be involved
College campuses are hubs of activity. With clubs and associations for nearly every interest, students are in a unique position to connect and network with peers and professionals whose interests and experiences can help you along your career journey. Many of these groups allow you to connect with local entrepreneurs, company leaders and researchers.
Volunteer with a local non-profit. Many established leaders are involved with a charity that is near and dear to their hearts, often sitting on boards or attending local events. Find something you’re passionate about and commit time to the cause. The people you meet along the way will likely remember you and your drive and be willing to advocate for you down the line.
7. Attend leadership and networking conferences
Students are always encouraged to attend leadership and networking conferences. These events bring together brilliant minds to learn new skills and become better leaders all while meeting new people in the process. 8. Attend employer events
Finally, make sure you’re actively looking for on-campus, virtual, and community employer events. Does your school host career fairs? If so, see if there are companies, you’re interested in attending and stop by to chat. Are you interested in a specific company? Look at their website and see where they’ll be. Many companies share what events they’ll be at on their website (we sure do). Maybe they won’t be at your college, but they’ll be somewhere else local? Take the time to look and see where you can connect.
Whether it’s an information session, coffee chat, or career fair these events are designed for students to build their network and discover professional opportunities that are available to them.
Join university networking groups on Facebook to connect with fellow students and professionals globally to expand your network!
Check out our internship and rotational opportunities for students and recent graduates!
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