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Networking 101

A Student's Ultimate Guide

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By Khrystelle Abo | 7th May, 2023

Growing your social circle as a student is one of the key ways to climb up the corporate ladder before college has even begun. In this article, discover the handbook to building professional relationships in order to achieve a successful early-career experience!

The secret of getting ahead is getting started.
— Mark Twain

📌 The road to success is not dependent on perfection or textbook intelligence. Instead, it is the small brave step forward that truly sets successful individuals apart.

Stacks of knowledge, passing finals, and near-perfect academic discipline are all characteristics of a student who is likely to be accepted into a prestigious college or university. However, most people overlook the importance of social networking — if intelligence were a door, your mentors would be the key.

A large percentage of students are unaware of this critical component up until their graduation and are expected to pile up scholarships a few months later. Learning the magic of networking during your high school years puts you well ahead of the game and opens up a world of fresh opportunities and ideas to discover.

The Art Of Networking

💸 85% of careers are filled through professional networking – and that’s not just an overrated hack, but a real statistic from HubSpot!

NETWORKING is the process of forming relationships and connecting with people, whether in-person or online, with the primary goal of expanding one’s professional circle in the field of study they are interested in.

Socializing can sound like an intimidating concept, especially for students who have only begun to plan their career journeys. However, by exposing yourself to interact with role models in your field of interest, you are not only allowing yourself a glimpse into the future you might walk into but also the opportunity to meet with potential employers.

While having brains and a good memory can certainly land you a spot in the industry, the power of social charisma is unrivaled.

This means putting your social anxiety aside because in order to reach comfort in success, you must first become uncomfortable.

It is important to understand that networking is a skill that must be mastered over time with patience. The sooner you can ease into this practice, the better prepared you will be in the long run.

The Benefits

1. GAIN REAL-WORLD EXPERIENCE 🌎 Hands-on learning is the highest-ranked learning method because it gives students a chance to take a step in their mentor’s shoes. It helps you develop soft skills such as communication, teamwork, and leadership.

2. PERSONAL GROWTH 📈 Anyone who is planning to enter the professional world needs to build a stronger sense of self-assurance and confidence. This is a process that requires patience and time, but it can be accelerated if you constantly surround yourself with your peers.

3. RECEIVE SUPPORT AND GUIDANCE 👋 Role models play a bigger role in your academic journey than you may realize, particularly for students who are transitioning from high school to college. Your mentors will teach you the critical skills and strategies necessary in the industry.

The Handbook: 4 Secrets You Must Know

There is one component that sets networking and socializing apart: INTENT.

A majority of people mistake them for the same thing, but really, they’re just like apples and oranges. Both are equally sweet, but one of them takes a lot more time and effort to peel before biting into.

While socializing is a casual and personal form of interaction with no specific goal in mind, networking means forming valuable connections with others solely for your career goals. Keep this distinction in mind, as it can be easy to confuse the two and send mixed signals to your potential mentors.

  • 👩🏾‍🏫 Get to know your professors better.
    Not only can teachers give you killer exam tips before finals, but they can also provide you with excellent letters of recommendation – which, in summary, is the icing on the cake for your college applications.

  • 🤳🏾 Use social media to your advantage.
    Reach out to role models you admire on a regular basis, especially those who specialize in your chosen field. Do not be afraid to ask a few questions. If your efforts are successful, request a casual meeting. Take this advice with a grain of salt.

  • 🍎 Attend professional events in your field of interest.
    Similar information about these formal organizations can be obtained from social media, including public Facebook pages or LinkedIn profiles.

  • 👑 Make the first move.
    It is extremely rare for an opportunity to present itself out of nowhere. Maintain a professional social media presence, remember the names of people you encounter, and always follow up with a thank-you email afterward.

When presented with an opportunity, never pass it up at first glance. You may have just skipped out on a chance to interact with senior professionals such as alumni, recruiters, and industry experts that can point you toward the gold mine where all industry secrets lie.

How To Network Like A Pro

A simple ‘hi’ and a brief greeting will suffice, but don’t stop there! Networking entails more than just reaching out. It also means summoning all the courage you’ve piled up over the years to request a semi-formal meeting.

💡 People feel greater satisfaction after a conversation if they did the majority of the talking. Allow your peers a chance to speak about their interests by asking them about their fields and expertise!

Preparation is the cornerstone of any self-assured and confident individual. You want to make a lasting impression and, hopefully, a lasting acquaintance. Here are a few GUIDELINES to stick to:

  • Research the industry and the person you are meeting with.
  • Prepare a list of questions for them to answer.
  • Practice active listening.
  • Bring a notebook and pen.
  • Send a thank-you note or email afterward.
  • Connect online.

Of course, all of the above can be replicated online via Zoom or Microsoft Teams. By tendency, people are more drawn to face-to-face meetings because it helps them to connect more powerfully and to remember the impression you’ve left on them in real time. It enables them to see you as a person and adds a positive footnote to the meeting.

Ask if they are willing to make a few introductions for you to other seniors in the industry. Show that you are eager to meet new people similar to yourself, and they may just offer you a helping hand!

Master Your Inner Confidence

Socializing is a scary ordeal, especially when you’re a student in a foreign environment filled with unfamiliar faces. It’s perfectly normal to get the jitters all of a sudden or pace anxiously in your room before a meet-up. Trust me, many students have been in your shoes before!

Everyone feels nervous at some point in their lives, and it’s okay to admit that you aren’t always confident 24/7. In fact, admitting your nerves may help you connect with others who have felt the same way before.

🌻 Ever heard of Anxiety Reappraisal? This is a strategy that involves tricking your brain into believing that your anxiety is actually excitement. It is frequently used by experts to manage their nerves and remain calm in high-pressure situations.

The Power Of Mindset

Here’s the thing: even with the power of networking on your side, landing your dream college isn’t guaranteed. There will be multiple competing factors at play, including academic performance, extracurricular activities, personal passion projects, recommendation letters, and more.

But if you’re willing to put in the effort, NETWORKING is an incredible tool that can help you stand out from the crowd and increase your chances of success.

So, whether you’re only beginning your college search or are in the home stretch, stepping out of your comfy bubble can make a true impact! It’s not going to solve all your college dilemmas, but it can make a huge difference when it comes to making an informed decision.

🎓 Your dream school awaits! We wish you the best in your journey.

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