Computer geeks immediately connect ‘networking’ to construction and design of IT networks. Social networking as a concept is not too different and involves establishing and developing of social and professional contacts. What you do informally at college while interacting with friends is building a social network. This network will serve you for life and your friends will likely be there to support you in your endeavours.
However, a professional network is equally important and will help you find job and growth opportunities throughout your career. You need not wait till your first job to start creating your professional network; you can kick-start it now, building your network in college with these following tips –
1. Start with your college professors:
The most important people you need to create good relations are your college professors. Even if you have gone through a rebellious phase in college, ensure you reach out to all your professors and get in their good books. They will be the best source for references for you, either for your future companies or higher education. Most professors are open to help you, all you need is just ask. You can ask them for advice on career or express your difficulties in their subject or simply discuss your future projects and plans.
2. Connect with visiting faculty:
Not just permanent professors, you should also reach out to visiting professors or guest lecturers who are working elsewhere or in the corporate sector. Speak to them after classes and get their professional contact details. Write to them telling them how much you enjoyed their class. You can also add them on LinkedIn and keep in touch with them. The important thing is to create an impression.
3. Network at college events and fests:
Don’t just concentrate on all the fun activities or events; ensure you participate in all the academic events and other activities. You will come across teams from other colleges who are brilliant at what they do. While they may be competitors, in the future you might come across them professionally. Or even better you can collaborate with them for outside competitions or other projects.
4. Connect with corporates at competitions, workshops:
Corporate events like competitions and workshops are increasingly becoming common in colleges across India. Corporates like to engage with students as a part of their campus engagement activities and are actively on the lookout for bright talent. You should actively seek out to interact with these corporate managers and not shy away from speaking to them.
Prepare in advance about what the company does and initiate a discussion.
To Dos for Professional Relationships:
1. Don’t be shy:
Yes, it can be a daunting task for a young student like you to approach a Vice President of a corporate or a senior professor at college. But if you are polite and approach them respectfully, they will lend an ear to what you have to say. Most seniors appreciate students who stand up and stand out from the rest. So just go ahead and take that first step!
2. Be respectful:
You must understand that at all these events, these seniors might be short on time. They may not have the time to chit chat exclusively with you. Don’t be disheartened. Just ask if it’s an appropriate time to talk and initiate a discussion.
3. Maintain professionalism:
Ensure that you only have a professional conversation with your connections. Avoid talking about personal life or events or even commenting about how they look, especially if you are talking to female executives.
4. Respect boundaries:
You may write an email to them once in a while congratulating them about their successes or inform them of your achievements. However, don’t block their email continuously with random emails or forwarding things. Don’t connect more than a month with people who don’t respond to you actively.
Just ensure you follow these and most of all, just get out there and be visible! These contacts are equivalent in their measure in gold and will help you when the time comes to seek new opportunities.
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