Network! Network! Network!

Networking is the way of the world, especially when you hear people say, “it’s who you know not what you know”. A survey done by consultant Lou Adler and LinkedIn says that about 85% of jobs come directly from networking. That’s a lot! If you think about it, almost everyone you may currently work with then, could have got their job from networking. And what’s more, networking often leads to higher paying and higher quality jobs.  

As students, networking is the best thing you can do in college. Industry professionals are on the edge of their seats to hear about the advancements and projects each student is working on and how we as students can contribute to their business. All there is left to do is reach out and network. 

How would you define networking?

I would like to reference a common 3 step process that networking can be broken down into: 

  1. Process. Networking is something that doesn’t happen casually but requires thought, planning, and deliberate activity. 
  1. Engaging. You are looking to have others do something for you—give you information, guidance, other contacts, or perhaps a recommendation. 
  1. Objective. You need to be clear about your purpose for networking—it is not merely to collect people’s contact information but to further your career development. 

How does someone network?

Networking can be as easy as showing up to an organized event and going around and talking to individuals there or can appear as reaching out to grab coffee with an industry professional. Depending on the stature of the individual you would like to network with sometimes mutual connections that you and the individual have can be beneficial, as those people can introduce you to the person you want to meet, whether it be thru email or in person. 

Is there a right or wrong way to network?

Not at all! It truly depends on what your goal is with the new connections that you made and networked with. Is it to hopefully work at the same company as the individual? Is it to ask a few questions related to the work/research/etc. that they do? Your success will be driven to a degree by the ability of the individual you’re networking with to help you reach your goals. 

With that said, you may not reach the goal after one networking encounter or meeting. It may take multiple times, and time staying in contact with the individual before you get offered a job, talking about information you maybe wanted to learn about with the individual, or it may never happen at all, but that shouldn’t take away the spirit of trying to network with individuals.

Use technology where you can

In a day and age when technology is running rampant and ever-growing, use it where you can. LinkedIn for example is a great platform to meet and network with industry professionals. This can also be used for more than just to meet professionals in your area like the city you’re in, but also to expand your outreach, where you can meet industry professionals across the globe. 

Ways to network as a student

As a student, this is your prime time to network because people in industry are more excited to meet students than everyone else for the most part. Join clubs, meet with professors, and get involved in applied work within your industry. This sets you up for when you hear about individuals that you want to network with, then you have a solid background and can make an impression.  

As for the actual process of networking, reach out through email, approach them in person when it is most convenient for the individual (don’t interrupt them if possible). Be confident and be yourself.  

Remember: There is no one way to network, go with what feels right, be a positive, curious mind ready to soak up information with people you network with, and you’ll have success. 

By Jon Spahn
Jon Spahn Career Mentor