By Alex Edwards, Beta Class
Networking is one of the most powerful tools you’ll have in your professional career. As a college student, you’re a prime candidate to meet the people who will get your dream job when you graduate. Business professionals want to help college students achieve their goals. Using these tips and tricks could be the difference between being in the job you want 4 years after graduation or being in the job you want right after graduation.
#1- Networking is about the other person
If you know nothing else about networking, know this: It’s not about what you can get from your contact, it’s about what you can give to them. I once received this advice from a very successful entrepreneur, “When you meet someone new, don’t walk away until you’ve figured out their goal and who you know that can help them reach their goal.” Share the network you’re working to build with others, and you’ll see the reciprocity from your new connections. In the end, it’s not about who you know it’s about who knows you.
#2- Know who to know
Here’s where the internet becomes more than just a vessel for watching Netflix. Take advantage of Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms to see who’s hiring for the profession you want. Who are the current professionals doing that job? You’ll find this information from a quick Google or LinkedIn search like “Marketing Director Orlando Magic.” Try reaching out to them by sending a letter (Yes, the kind of letter that requires a stamp!) or, if you can find a mailing address, an email stating who you are and that you’re interested in learning more about what they do. The worst that will happen is nothing at all, the best, you have an ally in the industry you want to be become a part of. It’s also a great way for those who are more introverted to start building their network and could be used as a spring board to get to know these people in the real world.
#3- Always be networking
You should be doing something everyday to grow your network or deepen a relationship you already have. Find someone featured in a local business journal, like the Orlando Business Journal, send them a congratulatory letter and ask if you can take them out to coffee one day. Join a chapter of a professional organization for your career like the American Marketing Association or the Society of Marketing Professionals and attend their meetings and workshops. If I learned one thing from Disney, it was that “It’s a small world after all.” You’d be surprised how many influential people are sitting right next to you everywhere you go. Just saying “Hi!” to the person next to you at the airport could lead to a new connection. You never know who you’ll meet that could use your help, and you never know who you’ll meet that can help you.