You're about to graduate, or maybe you just did. You see light at the end of the tunnel beaming in from the “real world.” But if you’re going to be in the real world, you need a real job. How do you get one? Easy - be eager, and earnest, and present yourself in the best light. Do this, and you’re well on the way. But yes, there’s more. Here are some simple networking tips to help recent grads land their first “real” job.
Talk to your professors
When it comes to great networking tips, one of the all-too-often ignored suggestions is to simply talk to your professors. University Professors aren't just ivory tower owls. They're real people with real connections. Some of these connections are with successful former students.
See where this is going?
The nuance is that you should not expect your professors to do anything for you. You should talk to them openly and humbly and simply ask them for their advice and, if it makes sense, for their help. If they say no or start to tap-dance, that's on them - not you. Simply let it go and consider asking another professor who, perhaps, you're closer with. Also note, of course, that it helps if the person you're talking to knows your work and you did well in their class. Wouldn't make much sense for a professor to stick his or her neck out for someone who did poorly in their class.
Note that what we're talking about here is more than just a letter of recommendation. Yes, recommendation letters have value, but not much unless it's from a particularly notable source...Whether it's right or wrong, the reality is that most job recruiters aren't awed by recommendations from those in academia.
So what are we talking about? How does a recent or prospective student solicit professional networking help from a professor?
So many connections (and ultimately jobs) come out of situations you'd never expect. So yes, you should join a co-ed basketball league, you should go to that upcoming job fair, or meet up. All of these things are the opposite of distractions - they are invaluable interactions that give you energy and provide countless ways to meet new people, grow, and open yourself to opportunities - opportunities you wouldn't have even know excited if you hadn't tried.
Use your Campus Career Center
Universities, colleges, junior colleges, trade schools - you name it, and they have resources to help you land a job. On-campus resources are an incredible untapped resource that students could benefit from tremendously. Take a stroll to your college's career center. Simply talk to someone - ask for help. Tell them what you have in mind for your future and see what happens. You never know who you might meet or what you might learn.
Networking tip: Leverage Social Media
Professional Alumni groups on Meta, LinkedIn, and even Twitter and Slack are powerful ways to network - if and when done correctly. And what's correctly? Simple: treat the people you meet online like real life people.
For example, when you reach out to someone on social media, don't be vague. You wouldn't do that in person, so don't do it online. Also, make sure your profile is up-to-date and looking sharp - first impressions matter, even online. Finally, remember that social media should supplement your in-person interactions - not replace them.
Networking tip: Be open
Put yourself out there. If you see someone wearing your college's shirt in a coffee shop. Say hello. Tell them you're a recent grad. And see what happens. Being open allows you to be your most confident, highest self.
One of the best ways to prepare for a job interview is by doing practice interviews with friends or family. And we don't just mean going over your answers to common interview questions.
We mean actually setting up a time and place to meet someone and role-playing an interview. The goal here is not only to hone your responses but also to get more comfortable with the process and the back-and-forth flow of an actual conversation.
An important networking tips to remember is that YES, first impressions do matter. The most important things are to be respectful, humble, and to transparently show your eagerness. But beyond that, it's also important to prepare - and one of the best things you can do to prepare is a mock interview (or five).
Nurture What You Have
Maintaining your network through follow-ups, thoughtful messages, and long-term communication is the path to true success and also, perhaps, fulfillment.
It's one thing to have a lot social media connections. It's another thing entirely to have a true, strong network of professionals that you can rely on, and who will be there to support your professional goals.
Professional networking tips for students
If you’re a student fresh out of college, odds are you’ve spent some time thinking about your first job. Probably, you’ve also spent time worrying. Don’t. Worrying doesn't help. What does is following the simple tips in this blog. Taking these positive steps (no matter how small) as often as you can is progress. And with enough progress, you can and will land the (first) job of your dreams.