As a student, you are probably participating in the social media. Maybe it is an important part of your social life, and provides you the ability to stay in close contact with family and friends back home. But you might want to give serious consideration to extending your social media activities in the area of business networking.
Graduation will come before you know it, and when it does a network of well-placed contacts will be one of the best ways to land that all important first job. But you shouldn’t wait until your last semester to begin networking for those contacts. There are a number of reasons why you should want to start building them now.
Related: Using Linkedin to Network
To find mentorsOnce you enter the job market and business world, you’ll need the help and advice of people who have gone before you. Anytime you’re entering any kind of new venture you can fast-forward your success by getting to know people who are already doing what it is you want to do.
The importance of having this kind of contact goes beyond simply looking for people who might hire you. If you can become friends with someone who is already enjoying success in your chosen career field, you can use them as a source of advice to help you get started in your own career path. By doing this, you can establish one or more mentors in your life, who can guide you throughout your career. You can approach them when you have questions or challenges that you are unable to handle on your own.
Since it takes a long time to build the kind of relationships that will produce a mentoring arrangement, you’ll want to start finding such people well before graduation.
To build contacts before you need them for a job
Job hunting today is less of an event and more of a process. This is especially true when it comes to finding your first job out of school. It can often take many months, which will also depend upon your major field of study and how great the demand is by the time you graduate.
The more contacts you have the better off you’ll be. This is not just because network contacts represent potential employers, but equally so because they may also be referral sources. You’ll want as many of both as you can before you even begin looking for a job.
To get a jump on your competition
Once you reach the spring semester of your senior year, job networking traffic gets heavier. Everyone who is graduating will be looking for network contacts where ever they can get them. Once that happens, you’ll simply be one voice in the crowd.
It will go far better with you if you begin building network contacts before the collective job search begins. That will give you time to build important relationships before your potential contacts are being hounded by dozens of other students looking for jobs.
To locate the best quality sources
Still another reason for getting into networking as soon as possible is that you want to locate the networks that have the best potential contacts for the career you want to enter. You may have spent a lot of your school years on sites such as Facebook and Tumblr, but generally speaking these are not the best places to find professional business contacts.
One of the very best social media sources for business networking contacts is LinkedIn. The advantage to the site is that nearly every profession and discipline that exists has a presence here. You should seek out networks of business professionals in whatever your chosen career is. You can look to network with small employers, recruiters that specialize in your field, and as many practitioners as you can link up with. All can help you in some way.
When you start you’ll want to make as many contacts as possible. Once you do this, you should begin sifting through the potential contacts to locate the ones that will be the most valuable. It’s not enough to simply sign-up for the site and build a profile page – you have to get actively involved in networking exchanges. That may involve participating in networking groups, or actively seeking conversations with industry practitioners. Even if a contact won’t be able to hire you, he or she might be a valuable source of job leads, or even a potential personal reference.
It’s perfectly acceptable to let any potential contacts know that you are a student looking to find your way into a career field. It’s likely that most people you contact the will not be receptive, but that’s okay. What you are looking for is the handful of people who are receptive and will be willing to help you.
Beyond LinkedIn, you should also try to join networks in your local area, whether they are on the web or face-to-face. Since the whole point of networking is to branch out to as many contacts as possible, you should never restrict yourself to single source.
Because building valuable network contacts takes time
Building a network of contacts isn’t something that will happen overnight. This is particularly true when you’re looking to gain something from the network, such as employment. Other participants in the network will be naturally reluctant to establish working contacts with you if only because they may not see a benefit in maintaining contact with a career newbie.
Start building your employment/business network as early in your school career as possible. The more time you have to build it, the bigger your network will be, and the more valuable the contacts will become. A few deep contacts will likely prove to be more valuable then dozens of superficial ones, but it will take time to build those relationships.
Have you begun networking for employment or business contacts yet?