Networking as a College Student – Dispelling the Common Myths
When you’re a college kid, people are constantly giving you advice. You expect to figure out what you want to do with your life and find a job by the time you graduate and everyone seems to have advice about how to do this. It’s so hard to know what to take seriously…
There’s one piece of advice that almost everyone seems to provide – networking is the best way to land that first job you are looking for. Now, let’s take a look at some of the most common myths about networking and dispel them!
Myth: There’s no point in networking before I begin looking for a job.
Truth: People have much more interest in talking to you before you want something. Speaking with a bright young student about their aspirations not only brings back memories of their glory days, but also shows them just how motivated you are. Additionally, a networking relationship is much like a friendship; you would only ask a friend for a favor once you actually knew them.
Myth: I only need LinkedIn once I’m out of college.
Truth: Building a network takes a long time, and LinkedIn can help you gradually accumulate contacts. Look for LinkedIn groups centered around your industry of interest. Make sure you complete your profile as much as you can, the site will show you your progress. Just having a LinkedIn shows employers you are serious about your professional future. Additionally, make sure you leverage LinkedIn with networking tools like Bizzabo, which helps you network at professional events.
Myth: I don’t know anyone who I should talk to besides my parents’ friends.
Truth: While your parents’ friends are a great starting point in forming your network, there are many other resources you should tap into. Your school’s alumni group and events on campus are a great place to start. Seek out alumni from your school at companies you are interested in and ask them some good questions. Learn about their companies in advance – you only get one chance to impress!
Myth: I wouldn’t know what to talk to people about.
Truth: Networking is relationship-building. While this may sound fancy, it really only involves being your “best” self! Show whoever you’re talking to how awesome you are, but at the same time, remember that this is not an interview. While you’ll want to ask a few focused questions, feel free to ask the people about themselves as well. Get to know them as a person, rather than as a “contact.”