Networking for Students: Why and How?

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I’ve been networking for a long time, and in many different ways, but I didn’t realize it until I recently began learning more about this topic.  Networking may be defined as “…the process of making connections and sharing of information” (Saint Rose Career Center Handbook, p. 9).

The Career Center Handbook and it’s section on Networking may be accessed by logging on to eCareerCenter and selecting “Handouts and Forms” underneath the blue and white “Resources” tab.

Why Networking is Important as a Student

  • It will help you forge new professional and personal relationships and maintain your current relationships.
  • It can put you in a better position to hear about job, internship, volunteer, and social opportunities that align with your chosen life goals.
  • Keep in mind: Networking is not about simply asking for a job.  It also may not necessarily be a quick or easy process.  Start as early as possible while you are still in an environment that offers peers, colleagues, mentors, and advocates that are interested in helping you develop professionally.

How Students Can Develop and Expand Their Networks

  • Existing relationships.  Don’t forget about the connections you already have!  Create a list of professors, mentors, friends, even relatives who either have knowledge about a field or topic you have an interest in or could provide you with information about specific opportunities.  Make note of what you would like to learn from each person and prepare several questions for each.  When you contact them, you will be leading the conversation for the most part.   P.S.- don’t forget to follow up on your progress and send a thank-you note!
  • Faculty and Student Support Professionals.  The members of your campus community have chosen helping students succeed as their career specialty.  They may have knowledge of established and up-and-coming web, print, and social outlets to expand your network as well as industries and graduate schools.  Also remember they’ve been through the student-to-professional transition and can provide insightful advice.
  • Twitter  and LinkedIn.  If you have yet to try using Twitter as a means for getting the latest news in your major or field, I suggest giving it a chance.  Many organizations, businesses, and prominent individuals have Twitter accounts that they use to connect with others and share information.  Through Twitter I have discovered live chats, Tweetups (meeting in person with your Twitter connections), professional organizations/groups, and bloggers.  If you already have a personal Twitter, consider making a separate professional one.  For information on LinkedIn, check out the video below.
  • Professional Organizations.   Professional Organizations are membership groups with opportunities to connect with others with similar interests, develop current knowledge/skills, and access resources produced by the organization (non-members can often access some resources via the organization’s website).  They also often offer undergraduate and graduate student memberships at reduced costs.  Browse Weddle’s Directory of professional organizations from a wide range of fields or conduct a simple Google search of associations in your field.
  • Informational Interviews.  Create new connections with individuals in your industry of interest by setting up an interview with a professional to ask him or her questions about their job and experience.  Proper networking is done with consideration for those you contact, so remember to practice good informational interview etiquette.  Again, be prepared to lead the conversation.
  • Career Advisory Network (C.A.N.).  The College of Saint Rose Career Center offers a Career Advisory Network on eCareerCenter.  It is a database of alumni and friends of the college who have made themselves available to contact with career/education related questions.  Over 140 professionals are on this list with diverse backgrounds and interests, and are available exclusively to you!
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Thank you to Rachel G., fellow (but former) graduate student and close friend, for offering student networking as an idea for a relevant and helpful post.

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