BY AMANDA SPARKS
Here’s some food for thought. 80% of job openings are not advertised. And the reasons for this is that employers have better methods of finding good pools of candidates. They have usually been supplied these candidates by colleagues and connections they have within the industry or by current employees who can recommend peers from college or previous jobs. You will want to be on these “lists” of referred candidates – and the way to do that is begin to establish a network of connections long before you are actually in the market.
Here are five reasons why networking should begin while you are in college.
- Networking Can Land You Your First Career Position
College students seem to be reluctant to network while still in college. They may be intimidated or they may not understand exactly how to begin to develop their networks.
Think about the people with whom you have some comfort and begin with them. These may be professors in your major field, for example. They are considered experts and have many connections in the private and public sectors. If you spend time with one or two of them, asking for career advice and projecting your enthusiasm for the career niche, they are likely to mention you when they learn of openings from their connections.
The same thing goes for others with whom you may feel comfortable. How about the parents of your close friends? If they are in career positions, they may have connections too. If they like you and believe that you are an honest, bright, and accomplished kid, they may very well recommend you to others.
- The Connections You Make Now Can Last a Lifetime
It’s not always about landing that first career position. Projections are that those who begin in a career niche right now could very well change careers at least four times during their work life. That’s just the nature of things today – careers evolve; some contract or die out; new career fields are always on the horizon.
As you move through your working life, you will want to change jobs within your career field or change careers entirely. The connections you made in college, especially with fellow students and even internship supervisors could prove invaluable, as long as you have remained in touch.
- You Will Gain Good Practice
Think about the academic challenges you faced when you began college. Perhaps you were intimidated by essays and papers and had to get some writing help. Maybe you were financially challenged and had to practice money management.
As mentioned already, many college students are not adept at networking. It takes self-confidence to make overtures, sometimes to strangers, and networking is a bit of an art. If you start in college, by joining professional associations, by setting up a LinkedIn profile and joining discussion groups in your niche, by following experts and influencers in your field on Twitter and other social media platforms, you will get the practice you need. With each new overture/introduction you make, you will get better. By the time you are in your career, you will be well-practiced and have the self-confidence you need to keep networking and to do it more successfully.
- You Will “Prove” Your Enthusiasm
If those who are already in your career niche see that you are participating in networking activities while still in college, and they see that you are asking questions, contributing to discussions, and following developments in the industry, they will be impressed.
- You Build a Community of Support
No one enters a career with great knowledge and a fully-developed skill set. And no one enters a career position with a full understanding of the organizational culture and environment. Moving up that career ladder will come with challenges and issues. If you have a network of experts in place – pros who have been in your field far longer than you – they become sources of mentoring, advice and counsel outside of the organization you are with. This can be invaluable.
Start your process of networking now. Right now, you don’t really need anything from your networking contacts. Work on making those relationships deeper. Then, when you do want to leverage your connections, they will be ready and eager to provide the help you need.
Author’s Bio: Amanda Sparks, pro writer and current editor at Essay Supply, lifestyle writer at Huffington Post. I am fancy doing perfect things for this perfect world, and help people make their life easier with my lifestyle tips.