As a student, networking can seem like an overwhelming and daunting challenge. You may not have a lot of professional experience, and you're not sure what you're looking for in terms of jobs or internships yet.
But building a network is one of the most important things you can do, not just because it'll help you get a job after graduation. The people you meet, the experiences you have, and the knowledge you gain by connecting with others are all things that will help shape who you become and what kind of impact you make in the world.
It's never too early to start networking. Here are five ways to kickstart your networking efforts and create lasting connections that will help you get ahead in your career.
Start With People You Know
Start with your comfort zone and talk to people in your circle. You'll have more in common with them than with strangers, and they might be able to introduce you to other valuable contacts.
Join Extracurricular Activities
Get involved in clubs and extracurricular activities that are centered on your career goals. There are always more people who want to join than there are spots available, so get in early and make yourself known by being active, helpful, and friendly. It will help you meet people who share your interests and goals within your industry as well as outside of it.
Volunteer At Events
Find time to volunteer for workshops, conferences and events around town.
Besides gaining valuable hands-on experience, you'll also meet a bunch of new people with similar interests or backgrounds.
Reach Out To People In The Industry
These are the people who probably have done the work you want to do. They are most likely to understand where you're coming from if you reach out and ask for help. You can also set up informational interviews with professionals for the inside scoop on the field or company you're interested in. But don't just ask for help—also find ways to help them out!
Talk To Everyone, Literally Everyone
You never know where new connections might come from or what someone else knows about an opportunity or opening at the company where you want to work—so just ask! And whenever possible, meet people face-to-face because it helps them remember you later on down the road when they might be able to help you out with something or offer guidance or advice.
Networking is like a muscle - the more you exercise it, the easier it becomes. So get off your couch and take a proactive approach to meeting new people and building your network.
Though, while you're on your couch, you can still build your network and get connected to people you want to work with here.