A great piece written by a Parker Dewey Career Launcher and recent grad.
Networking. Is it really that important? The answer is yes! Although it can seem like a lot of work, making connections and interacting with people in your field is important for Career Launchers and can really pay off in the long run.
Meeting and connecting with new people can seem overwhelming, especially if you’re like me and aren’t particularly outgoing - but it doesn’t have to be! Here is some insight on how to make a good first impression and develop your professional network:
Where can I find people to connect with in the industry I am interested in working in?
Pretty much anywhere! Some common places to network are at career fairs, networking events, school events, social gatherings, and professional meetings, but you can network anywhere you go! You can expand your network by connecting professionally with neighbors, classmates, teachers, employers, coworkers, coaches, friends, family, and more.
How do I start a conversation with someone I’d like to network with?
Think of a short introduction that includes the basics such as your name, where you attend school, what year you are, your major, and what industry you are interested in. Example- “Hi, my name is Alex. I’m a junior at Dominican University and I’m thinking about going into marketing. I’m currently trying to expand my network in this industry and was wondering if you or any of your contacts are currently looking for a marketing intern.”
How do I set myself apart from other people and make sure a person remembers me?
Ask yourself, “What do I offer that sets me apart?” Make sure to mention any internships, work or volunteering experiences, and any unique skill or accomplishment that would make you stand out from the crowd.
Don’t forget about your social media network!
While face to face networking is essential for building relationships, your social media network can be just as important. Make sure your LinkedIn, Facebook, and other online profiles are a positive representation of your character and career goals. You shouldn’t post anything on your social media profiles that you wouldn’t want a potential employer or client to see. Try to keep your online presence professional and appropriate. Even if your profile is set to private, you should still be careful about what you choose to share with your social media network.
And remember, the benefits of a strong network don't end once you have a job - the value of your network continues to grow throughout your career. Your network allows you to explore career paths, gain insight into companies / industries / roles, access resources, and many other things.