How to Network and Make the Right Connections in College
By: Kimberly Evans
One way or another, your time in college is going to have a significant impact on your life. Apart from the fact that you’ll spend quite some time of your formative years there, the relationships which you form will likely be some of the most important throughout your life. Even a cursory look at some of the most popular and successful companies will reveal that quite a number of them were founded by collegiate friends during or after school.
If you’re currently in college or going soon, one of the best things you can do to maximize your time there is to deliberately network as much as you can and expand your circle of connections. Even though it might appear intimidating at first, here are a few tips to get it done effectively and conveniently, even if you’re not too much of a sanguine person:
- Join Clubs and Groups Along Your Interests
In college, you’ll have an array of options to choose from when it comes to organizations to join and participate in. You can join the general ones such as the Greek clubs and others like JCI or AIESEC, but you can also join those that have more specific purposes such as debate clubs, health clubs, finance or others.
When you join those clubs, you’ll get the benefit of making connections with your peers who have similar interests as you do, increasing the likelihood that you’ll be able to start something with them or meet them in the future. Furthermore, those clubs often interact with professionals in their respective fields, so you’ll be able to meet AND connect with them too.
- Get a Mentor
Introductions are very important nowadays. There is a much higher chance that someone you want to get in touch with will respond positively when you’ve been referred by a colleague or friend of theirs than if it’s a completely cold outreach. With a mentor, you’ll be able to tap into his or her own network and get them to facilitate your contact with other professionals.
In choosing your mentor, avoid the temptation to approach the biggest, most prominent person in your field just because you think they’ll be most beneficial to you. In reality, mid-level professionals will likely be most beneficial since they’ll be able to spend more time mentoring you.
- Take Your Part-time Jobs and Internships Seriously
You might think that they are not “real jobs” but they could turn out to be crucial to your career subsequently. Those jobs will be your first few chances to prove your skills and professionalism as a sedation dentist in Calgary, for instance, and if you excel in them, it’ll increase the likelihood of a job offer from the same company or a referral to another place.
Before starting out at any job or internship, try to reach out to people who have worked there before to get their opinions and guidance. That will help to shorten your learning curve and make it easier to impress your colleagues and superiors.
- Interact with All the Professors You Can
You won’t be taught by every single professor in your college, faculty or department, but that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from all or most of them. Strike up conversations with professors on their areas of expertise and help them out whenever there’s an opportunity to. You’ll find it easy to ask them for help when you need them.
Whether it’s to give advice on an idea you have or to invest in your startup, professors have been known to go the extra mile for students they particularly like and believe in. Positioning yourself well will make it easier for you to benefit when the time comes.
- Attend Relevant Events
Conferences, symposia and other events are ideal places to meet with like-minded people across various professional levels. Most students don’t bother, so you’ll likely have an edge and stand out just by making the effort to attend.
Not all events are created equal though, so you’ll have to take the time to research each potential event and determine whether it’ll be worth it. Prioritize those that you’ll have someone to introduce you at, since that will make your networking much more efficient.
Kimberly Evans is a writer, traveler and Internet chatter. She covers stories about businesses and lives that inspire her. Email: KimberlyEvansPen@gmail.com