Fun random fact: I graduated college four years ago.
Why does that matter? In case you missed the headline completely, this article is giving you tips on how to network after college. Being out of school for four years definitely has its ups but also its share of downs. One being actually going out in the world to network with people. Yeah, I know. You actually have to talk to other people outside your circle of friends.
But, what is networking and why is it so important?
Essentially, networking is, by definition: “interact[ing] with other people to exchange information and develop contacts, especially to further one’s career.” Pretty straightforward, right? Now why is it so important? You know that classic line, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”? Well, it’s true. Connections are the best way to align your career interests with someone else’s who can open new doors for you. Or, you might meet someone who can connect you with someone else. Networking never sleeps.
So now that you know what networking is and why it’s so important… How does one go about networking AFTER college? You know, when you’re no longer stuck in a classroom with the same people every single day? You might have to – dare I say it – step out of your comfort zone and speak to strangers.
Now, I know many parents taught us to never talk to strangers. While this is true, I’m sure by now you have better judgement. So get your professional clothes set aside because you’ll need them. Here are a few ways to start the process of networking:
Create a LinkedIn and Update It Frequently
LinkedIn is the Facebook of the world. Many employers, professionals, influencers, etc. refer to your profile to see your career accomplishments. They want to see what you’ve been able to do, big or small. I’ve seen so many bare profiles, it sort of makes me cringe. Take that LinkedIn photo. Flesh out your past/current responsibilities. Don’t forget to include all your volunteer work. And last but not least, endorse people. Once you endorse people, the love will come right back to you.
I don’t mean this in a cruel way. Friends can be the a great resource and it takes a small introduction to get the ball rolling. You don’t seem to come off as creepy in any way whatsoever because you have that mutual friend. Now when you reach out to someone via email, you can start off the conversation with, “I met you with our mutual friend [insert name]. I’d love to learn more about [insert topic.]”
Don’t Take Business Cards For Granted
Not everyone has a business card and that’s totally fine! I like to make it my goal in professional networking situations to always grab someone’s business card. It’s as if its a seal of them saying, “Feel free to contact me anytime. I’d love to hear from you.” You may take a card and not think twice. But don’t throw them away. You never know when you might need that small card in the future.
Attend Free Networking Events
Networking events are most of the time available out your disposal. Almost everyone wants to network with someone they’ve never met before. It’s the nature of the game! So grab a friend and get out there. It’s intimidating when you don’t know how to navigate these types of events but once you start a conversation with someone, it’s smooth sailing! If you can’t splurge out $500 to attend one, might we recommend MeetUp? Great way to find places in your area FOR FREE! Or heck, it’s a shameless plug, attend one of our TFCU Talks. We always have a networking session at the end of each talk during the dinner session!
Do Not Take Internships For Granted
Whether you’ve done an internship or you’re currently an intern, do not take it for granted. You might be the one running to grab coffee but everyone has to start somewhere. Use this position to meet more people within the company. The more they know your name and remember your face, the better.
No, really. If not a DM, then leave someone you want to speak with a comment. A message could go a long way and with the power of social media, it’s more than likely they’ll respond!
Now it’s time for you to take our tips and use them to your advantage. Don’t forget to let us know how it went or if you used a different tactic! We’d love to hear your story.