Modern Networking Tactics for the College Student
It’s not what you know it’s who you know. These common words of wisdom hold especially true in today’s world where even the best and the brightest graduates have difficulty landing a job. In this economy, networking, more than education or job experience, is the key to professional success.
I am currently a sophomore at the University of California at Berkeley and have spent the last few years actively working to build my personal network. The tactics I have used have opened various doors for me and given me opportunities I would have otherwise never known existed.
This post is meant as a way for me to share some of tactics I have implemented.
It is amazing how much credibility having a blog instantly builds. It does not matter whether you have one reader or a hundred thousand readers; having and maintaining a blog shows you know how to take initiative and be consistent.
If your readership base is small, a blog may not attract new opportunities and contacts, but instead will serve as a way for you to be chosen for any opportunities that come your direction (whether it be a job, an internship, or a scholarship) and a way to build credibility with the contacts you make. Once you attract a readership base, opportunities will naturally find their way into your e-mail inbox.
I currently run AM Beat, a blog about marketing and entrepreneurship. Through showing this blog to anyone I network with, it becomes easy to establish a sense of credibility and be memorable. The blog has also served as an outlet for me to meet various other students and entrepreneurs who can help me with my various projects.
- Start a Club
At UC Berkeley, I started CEOB, the College Entrepreneur Organization of Berkeley. We currently have around 100 members, but the interesting thing is that since my e-mail is listed on the UC Berkeley website as the founder and head of the club, well known companies e-mail me opportunities for jobs and internships for me to pass on to my members.
In addition, it became easy to attract the attention of well known individuals as I can invite them to come speak at UC Berkeley. Hence, messages that may have gone ignored were instantly replied to. Once contact was made, making the connection became simple.
- Teach a Class
This is another great way to build credibility and attract the attention of well known and respected individuals. At Berkeley we have an organization called DeCal which allows students to pick a subject, create a syllabus, and teach fellow students. Every DeCal student is awarded two units. In addition to allowing students to say they were the instructor of a class at a credited university, it again also allows students to attract speakers to come visit whom they can then establish a personal relationship with.
- Attend Industry Conferences
Industry conferences are the ultimate venue for individuals to build a name for themselves within a certain professional community. These conferences don’t usually feature many students so there is not as much competition as there is at a job fair. It also allows you stick out in the minds of anyone you come in contact with. Another added benefit of attending conferences is that they often feature steep discounts for students. For example, a standard ticket to the TechCrunch 50 start-up conference costs $3,000, while a student ticket runs $200.
- Don’t Forget Traditional Networking Methods
While these networking tactics may be a bit outside of the box, don’t forget to network in the traditional manner. These tactics have been tried and proved effective for decades. Make sure that you still attend job fairs, join professional clubs other than the ones you start, and take advantage of the career counseling your school provides.