Connections. As a business student, this is certainly a word that has been drilled into my head by many of my mentors, advisors, professors, and even classmates. By having conversations with employers and alumni from different companies, you are essentially building your network of people, known as “connections,” who can help guide you to your very own career path.
Of course, networking applies to all majors, not just business, which makes networking a very essential skill when it comes to searching for a job or internship. In this article, I will present to you a few tips on how you can succeed in building your network.
- Make Sure Your LinkedIn Profile and Resume Are Ready.
You may have noticed that whenever you apply for a job or internship, the application almost always requires you to upload your resume. This is because employers would like to know more about your previous work experience and see if you would be a good fit for the role. In the same way, when you interact with employers at career fairs, for instance, they want to get to know you better and see if they could recommend you any positions they are offering, which is why they sometimes ask you to give them a copy of your resume. Closely related to your resume is your LinkedIn profile, which also lists your experiences, accomplishments, and skills in an online format. If you need help refining your resume and/or LinkedIn profile, I would recommend meeting with your career advisor to get started.
- attend career fairs and networking events.
One of the best ways to find connections is by attending career fairs and networking events. It is more often than not that you will encounter recruiters from some of the top companies you would like to work for, because many of them are interested in university students just like you. To stay updated on upcoming networking events, Handshake is a great site to use.
- Create a Unique “Elevator Pitch” About Yourself.
At the start of a conversation with an employer, they will most likely ask the following question: “Tell me about yourself.” As someone who has been asked this question during every interview, introduction call, and networking conversation, I found that the easiest way to approach this question is by preparing an “elevator pitch” that describes me in a unique yet succinct way. Think of a few experiences or qualities about yourself that stand out to you, and try to compile them into a 1 to 2-minute description that you can bring to words during the conversation.
- ask compelling questions.
Employers really like it when you ask them questions because it shows that you are interested in learning more about their opportunities. You will stand out even more if you do some prior research on their company and prepare some questions on information that is not included in their website or job descriptions. Overall, some example questions include “What are the skills and experiences you’re looking for in an ideal candidate?” and “What does a typical day or week look like in this role?” Here is a guide to more networking questions.
- always remember to follow up.
If you happen to be interested in applying for a certain company, you can keep the conversation going by sending a follow-up email to the recruiter you connected with. Nevertheless, it is important that you send a follow-up to every employer that you meet, even if you’re not interested in them, because it is part of professional etiquette. The email could be as simple as giving a thank you and attaching your resume to it if you have not given it before. You can even take it a step further by including some additional questions you may have about the company or a certain role you’re interested in.
Connections are an integral part of your career path. Throughout your college career, you will come across various connections almost everyday. Some of them might be more personal than others, such as your closest friends, and some could be people who have already had a lot of work experience, and so you look up to them as mentors. Whomever is a part of your network, just remember that it never hurts to keep growing it. Meeting new people gives you the opportunity not only to learn about what they do, but also to shape your future in the professional world.