New to Networking? No Problem!
For many students, the idea of networking is an intimidating process especially those starting to build their connection on the web. Whether you’re not sure where to begin or are looking for tips on how to expand your reach, we’ve got you covered with this simple guide to networking!
Building connections with professors and faculty is one of the most effective methods of networking. Professors have experience prior to their teaching careers, through which they have developed an expansive network of valuable connections. By connecting with these people, relationships and opportunities will naturally emerge. Utilizing office hours, asking questions after class, and reaching out via email are great ways to initiate those connections.
In addition to reaching out to professors, it is incredibly important to remain active on campus. There are endless ways to get involved, whether that means joining clubs related to your major, getting involved in intramural sports or Greek life, becoming part of an honor society, or obtaining an on-campus job or internship. Building connections with faculty members or other students within these organizations is a unique way to meet people outside of your circle!
Business Horizons and Connection Job Fairs are valuable resources Virginia Tech offers to facilitate networking between students and professionals. These experiences allow students to connect with employers and build connections with professionals who are specifically interested in networking with students. Additionally, attending career fairs gives students the opportunity to practice networking and having meaningful conversations with professionals in their field.
Another method of connecting with others is sending cold emails to admirable or successful professionals in your field. You should start by introducing yourself and providing the recipient with a concise explanation of what you are looking for and where you are heading. Finish your email by requesting to speak with, receive advice from or to meet with the recipient. This email should remain professional and respectful, and always end with a “thank you”.
Nurture the Relationship
In order to maintain your connections, you need to be proactive and continue to nurture those professional relationships. It’s important to remember to take time to build beyond an initial conversation. By doing so, your network can only strengthen over time, which will allow you to utilize their resources in the future.
Networking doesn’t have to be a complicated or daunting process. By focusing on each of these steps, the process will feel easier and less intimidating. As your network begins to grow, so will the amount of opportunities available to you. Good luck!
By Christine Babish