Employment

7 networking tips for students

by Jamie Brackpool

Are you nervous to graduate? Does the job hunt scare you?

Believe it or not, getting that dream job isn’t just about your resume. With the job market being more competitive than ever, networking is a very important part of finding a job. The more people you know, the more feet you have in different doors.

But how do you network? Here are seven tips to help you become great at networking.

Don’t be afraid to ask

If you find someone on LinkedIn you want to connect with and you only have one mutual connection, what should you do? Better give up, right? Wrong! Ask your mutual connection if they can introduce you or go and make the connection yourself. If you can convince that person you are genuinely interested in what they have to say, they will likely agree to meet with you. People love to talk about themselves and most really don’t mind helping a student out.

Student standing outside with notebook

Talk about them

Of course, you have tons of amazing things you want the person to know about you but that’s not why they agreed to meet you. They agreed to share their experiences with you, and that’s a good thing. People want to talk about their accomplishments and their career. Take the opportunity to learn what steps you can take to kick start a great career for yourself.

If they do want to know about you, they will ask. Chances are you’ll have a chance to talk about your aspirations at some point, but let them initiate that conversation.

Two women meeting at a table

Prepare meaningful questions

There is nothing worse than meeting someone and having nothing to say. They are expecting you to be prepared! Don’t let this intimidate you. You’re not conducting an interview for The National Geographic. Here are some good sample questions:

Where did you go to school?
What was the most memorable moment of your career so far?
What is the best part about this industry/job?

You can even clarify what kind of questions you want to ask in your initial email. For example, “I would love the chance to meet with you and discuss your career in the ______ industry.”

Two people meeting and looking at a computer

Go to networking events

Networking events are great. Not only do you have the chance to meet industry professionals, you also have the chance to meet people in the same stage of their careers as you. You might work with them in the future and they might be good connections to have in your back pocket.

Networking events are usually pretty casual and you don’t have to talk to the same person the whole time. If you are speaking to someone and it’s not a good fit, your night won’t be wasted. You will have more opportunities to speak to other people.

A group of people sitting on couches in a conversation

Coffee is key

Coffee is code for “network.” If someone offers to meet you for coffee, saying, “I don’t like coffee,” is the incorrect response. If tea or water is your drink of choice, that works too. It’s more about the gesture than the drink.

Also, if someone has taken the time to meet you, the least you can do is buy them their beverage. It’s a small gesture that goes a long way.

Shot of people's hands while meeting for coffee

Be open to meeting with different people

Sometimes the opportunity to network with someone presents itself when you don’t expect it. Even if you didn’t pick this person as a potential connection, you should still connect. You never know what you might learn. Be open to talking to people from different industries. This isn’t a job interview. You won’t come out of this obliged to meet this person again. There is no such thing as having too many business cards and a genuine connection is never a bad thing.

Stack of business cards

Send a follow-up email

Don’t forget this crucial step. Imagine someone asking you to meet for an hour and then leaving without ever following up. You would feel a bit cheated. Send an email in the next few days thanking them for their time. This is a good time to share your biggest takeaways from the meeting. Say something like:

Your advice regarding _____ was extremely useful.
Our discussion surrounding ______ was especially interesting.

Sending an email is important and you should remember to send one in the future after interviews.

letter in an envelope on a table

 

If you follow these tips you’ll be well on your way to becoming an expert in networking. But don’t forget, just be yourself. If all goes well you will be well on your way to landing an interview for your dream job. Here are some great interview tips to help you land the job.


Want the best job on campus? Visit IGNITE’s job fair¬†on April 4th, 5th, and 6th at your campus!