By: Anna Potterfield
For many college students, hearing the words “networking is essential” is about as common as hearing “don’t forget to study!” It is always stressed that networking is a crucial part of finding a job – especially your first job fresh out of college. This type of communication is often dreaded as is, but with the current situation our world is in, it has become even more difficult. So, how do you even begin to network during a global pandemic?
Connect close to home
Despite what some may think, you don’t have to begin your networking journey with a room full of the best, top tier professionals at some fancy industry event. Start with the people you know. It’s as easy as getting in touch with friends, family, or professors and alumni from your university. These are people you can remain in contact with for years to come, and you never know where they might lead you.
Step outside your comfort zone
While connecting with people you know can boost your networking confidence, it’s important not to get too relaxed in your comfort zone. Be outgoing and take risks; that is what many employers look for! This could include reaching out to new companies and internships, participating in webinars and conferences, or simply connecting with new people through social media.
It is important to focus on what you can do for an employer, not what they can do for you. Keep this in mind when you are connecting with new people and trying to build relationships. A successful network is mutually beneficial.
Take advantage of social media platforms
The online world is one of the few things that is thriving during the pandemic, making social media platforms even more crucial for networking in this time. LinkedIn is one of the most beneficial tools for connecting with other professionals all over the world. One way to build relationships is to join or create a LinkedIn group, which can allow individuals with similar interests to discuss topics within their industry. factor
In addition, keeping your other social media platforms, such as Instagram or Twitter, looking professional can help attract future employers. Pay close attention to detail within these platforms, as companies look for grammar mistakes and appropriateness in posts.
Quarantine is surprisingly one of the best times to focus on perfecting your professionalism. Students should look at this time period as an opportunity to improve their online profiles, resumes and portfolios.
New work should be updated regularly to these credentials to enhance your image. You should also take advantage of this time to practice skills needed in your specific industry. This could be improving work in Indesign and creating new content, writing blog posts, or even just tailoring your resume to various job posts. By doing so, this can keep you prepared for any opportunity that may come your way.
Make time for networking
Networking isn’t enjoyable for everyone. When you have a free period in the day, I’m sure you’d much rather be soaking up some sun or watching the game on TV than struggling to create a relationship with professionals.
Hannah Morgan, a job search strategist, suggests setting aside 30 minutes of your day for networking. This could include browsing social media feeds, commenting on articles, or researching new companies. Whatever it may be, dedicating a small amount of time everyday to networking will not only expand your connections, but enhance your professionalism as well.
Believe it or not, there are countless individuals in the same boat as you right now. Whether it be worrying about graduation, or stressing about finding the perfect job, many students are concerned about the future altogether. Being apprehensive about these issues is understandable, but it is important to remember you are not alone. Continue to reach out to people and broaden your network. Something as simple as offering your support during this difficult time could be what sparks your future career.
What are your thoughts on networking during these interesting times? Leave a comment below on how you plan to stay connected with people to launch your future career!