Have you ever wondered why so many students that graduate from universities — even the top ones — fail to get a job? It’s not that they aren’t talented or don’t have enough experience on their resume. The problem? According to NPR, almost 70 percent of jobs available are never advertised. Rather, they get filled by word of mouth — and the more senior the position, the more often it happens this way. So yes, it’s true — it’s who you know and who knows you that truly matters.
At this point in your life, you may be a young entrepreneur who’s still in college. That is why it’s extremely important to develop profess i on a l relationships and connections — especially ones in your field of interest if you plan to advance in your career. Networking can be scary if you’re not used to the idea. However, it can happen more naturally than you think.
As a college student, it’s much easier to network. After all, you’re constantly surrounded by a variety of individuals who are also working to be the best in their field. Sometimes your professor and classmates can be your most valuable assets. Instead of just showing up to class and doing the minimum work, talk amongst your classmates, get to know them and maintain relationships. Who knows where those classmates might land after graduation? One day, they might just be your ticket in the door to work for your dream company.
Overall, it’s all about who you know — the more the better, even if just superficially. Your network is your net worth. Below are some methods to help you build your network:
CONNECT WITH EVERYONE ON LINKEDIN.
Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn is a much more professional social media. Add anyone you’ve met — especially those you have met in class or at events. This site allows you to say your congratulations and happy birthdays to the people you follow, while continuing to maintain a professional relationship — especially those you have met in class or at events. Adding them on Facebook can come off as creepy, but connecting with them on LinkedIn gives off a less creepy overtone.
VOLUNTEER WITHIN YOUR CAREER FIELD.
Start with putting time aside and volunteering at an organization you would want to work for in the future. For example, those who dream to work in the film industry or Hollywood, consider volunteering at a local film festival or a local movie theatre, a great way to meet people who are as passionate about film as you are and build future connections. Not only would you get to meet other individuals who are film fanatics, but you’d potentially get the chance to see films before their official release dates. Some organizations even offer free tickets to any movie in exchange for volunteer time. It’s a win-win situation!
JOIN A CLUB OR ORGANIZATION.
Consider joining a club on campus that coincides with your future career interests and attends their events and meetings. Not only does everyone in the club already have something in common, but it becomes an easy ground to spark up conversations with people about your mutual interests.
GET A JOB AT A LOCAL RESTAURANT OR COFFEE SHOP.
Working at a job that requires you to interact with other people can be very beneficial, and take advantage of these relationships you create with coworkers and customers. Not only do you get to continue working on your social skills, but you get to meet different kinds of people all day, every day. By the time you have worked in customer service for a good few months, your social and networking skills will be better developed. Remember: Madonna worked at Dunkin’ Donuts, Rachel McAdams worked at Mcdonald’s and Megan Fox worked at a smoothie shop before becoming famous.
AVOID ONE-SIDED CONVERSATIONS.
When looking for the right hairstylist or the right plumber, wouldn’t you want to know a little bit about their work and history? Does this hairstylist know how to properly cut a long bob? Does this plumber have any good credentials? Is he reliable to be alone in your home while you’re at work? It should always be the goal to learn a little bit about the person you’re talking to. How will they benefit you in the future? Are they friendly, trustworthy, and/or loyal? Don’t make the conversation all about yourself. People love talking about themselves, so give why not give them the chance to.
UNPAID INTERNSHIPS ARE OK.
While there is controversy over unpaid internships — some see them as unfair and even morally wrong — they really are what you make out of them. Unpaid i nt e rnships are a great way to make professional connections and relationships with your temporary co-workers. By working with these people on a regular basis, it becomes the perfect opportunity to develop a professional connection with them, as many could be your foot into the industry. Start a conversation with them, tell them your major, your hobbies and interests — socialize to make friends. Once you gain their trust, they’ll be more open to talk about their business and projects, which could lead to many things. After all, they were once students like yourself who also needed help during the start of their careers.