How to Make the Most of Networking/Building Relationships in College

By L. Roberts on November 5, 2019

Networking and building relationships during college are some of the most important things you can do for yourself during those four years. Students might not realize how essential those relationships will become once they’re out of college. More than anything, those relationships have the power to open doors to success after graduation.

When college students are in the midst of cramming for exams and serving on committees that will make their resumes look good, they often forget how important the relationships they’re building truly can be. Networking in college is probably one of the most overlooked parts of being a college student. While you’re having a blast and trying to pass your classes, you often forget about the fact that these are the people who could link you to success in a heartbeat after graduation. While you’re in college, there are several ways you can make the most of networking. Follow these eight tips to get the most out of building relationships while you’re in college:

via Pexels.com

1. Keep a journal of contacts.

One of the most disappointing parts of graduating from college is that you forget the names and phone numbers of the people you’ve met. You lose contact with people who could benefit you later on. While you’re in college, keep a contact list or directory of people you want to keep in contact with. Without the basics of contact information, there’s no way you’ll be successful at networking while you’re in college.

2. Seek out those who are interested in similar things.

If you’re struggling with where to start with networking in college, you can brainstorm organizations or individuals who may be interested in the same things you are! If you’re in the school of business, you likely have an interest in managing people, dealing with money, and building trusting relationships. Other individuals in business probably have these same interests. You can take a pretty good shot at guessing who might be interested in striking up a conversation with you by simply looking around at who’s in your classes.

3. Challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone.

Networking can be difficult for students who are underclassmen. It’s almost uncomfortable to attend networking events because it’s expected that you’ll make contacts. The most comfortable networking happens organically, but that is hard to come by! Networking events are put on by different organizations and programs at your school in order to get students engaged in relationships with those who are interested in the same things.

If you’re feeling uncomfortable about networking, know that everyone often starts that way. The more you network, the more natural it will become for you. “Practice makes perfect” might not exactly apply here, but practice definitely makes you better.

4. Clear your calendar for professional events.

You might think your social event is more important that that networking/professional dinner that’s happening in your department. However, once you’ve graduated and you’re no longer in your program, these opportunities quickly disappear. Take advantage of these professional events by ensuring your calendar is cleared. You’ll appreciate the time you took to attend these events while you were in school.

5. Join professional organizations and clubs that align with your interests and career goals.

The more involved you can get with like-minded individuals while you’re in school, the better. It’s not often that you organically make friends with people who are on your exact career path, so you have to go out of your way to put yourself in situations where you can meet these people. It’s important that you prioritize joining these organizations in order to give yourself a shot at meeting people who could potentially be of help to you in the future.

6. Foster relationships with people after the initial meeting.

It’s not enough to just network with people and exchange business cards. It’s very much up to you to follow-up with people. Have coffee, meet for a drink, do something that will require you to build a relationship. The initial meeting isn’t enough to make an impression on someone. Remember that the more effort you put into a relationship, the more you get out of it.

7. Connect people you know to each other.

One of the best ways to network is to become the person people look to in order to “meet people.” If you become the person who begins connecting people on campus, you’ll insert yourself into several different networking groups.

8. Specifically look for networking events on campus.

Keep your eye out for networking events that take place on campus. You can’t expect to just show up in the right place at the right time. Make sure you clear your calendar and plan ahead.

Networking can be scary and intimidating, especially the first few times you do it. But one of the biggest things you can do for yourself while you’re in college is build relationships with people who are looking to do what you’re interested in. Partnerships that begin in college are sometimes the most successful. Don’t sell yourself short! Get out there!

In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her pup at the dog park and binge watching Netflix with endless cups of Hot Cocoa.

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