As travel restrictions start to ease up, more international students will be in the U.S. for the upcoming academic year. Whether you are a freshman in college or a senior preparing to graduate and pursue your goals, the ability to build and maintain a network is an often overlooked aspect of the college experience. According to LinkedIn, 85% of job vacancies are filled through direct referrals from one’s network. This is the time to start planning how you will stand out from other applicants! Check out these tips to become an expert at building your network.
Benefits of Networking in College
The purpose of networking is to form relationships with those who will help you get where you want to go. Networking in college can lead to major opportunities once you graduate. As you start to build your network, you will find that your connections are there to support you every step of the way. This is because they have probably been in your shoes before, so they understand the help you need.
Another benefit of networking is being able to take advice from experienced peers in the field you are interested in. You can discuss the challenges and current opportunities available, even extracurricular activities they took part in to boost their resume.
Tips for Building Your Network
Get involved on campus
There are various benefits of getting involved on campus. You’ll meet new people, start to build your resume, and of course expand your network. There are many ways to get involved on campus, including Greek life, joining student organizations, internships, honor societies, and more! Not only will you meet students from your school, but you will also have the opportunity to connect with alumni, advisors, and mentors. If you don’t know where to start, check to see if your school is having an involvement or club fair to find something you are interested in.
Take advantage of career services on campus
The career center on campus is full of resources to help you succeed in building your network. You can receive tips on building your online presence, mock interviews, finding a job or internship, and learning about future job fairs. It may be too early to start looking for a job, but it can help you in the long run once you graduate. Attending job fairs will allow you to connect with company representatives, practice your elevator pitch, pass around your resume, and ask questions.
Take advantage of social media
Your online presence is important when it comes to networking. This is how your connections can find out more information about you. With this, it is important to stay visible and consistent on all your social media platforms. This helps anyone looking at your profiles to get to know you better, especially for recruiters considering you for a job opportunity. LinkedIn is the best tool to help you build your professional brand, network, and keep up with industry trends and reports when it comes to your online presence. If you are new on LinkedIn, start building connections by adding your professors and people from your school. For more information click here.
In addition, this is a good time to review your other social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, etc.) to make sure you are putting the best version of yourself on these sites. Everyone has their own opinions, and sometimes social media can be used to vent about your frustrations. However, even if everyone was talking about something, an employer or recruiter will only see your name and make judgments based on that.
Want to connect with other international students? Connect with our WhatsApp profile (+1 212 262 8922) and we’ll add you to a group with students from your school.
Attend virtual/in-person networking events
Being present is key to building your network and strengthening your connections online. Attending events provides you with the opportunity of being in the right place at the right time. Schools always promote events like this so be sure to check your email or the school website to see if there are any opportunities available.
You can also check companies’ social media platforms for any upcoming events they are having. Find the right event that interests and inspires you, giving you the chance to meet people who have skills and information to share. Make an account on video communications platforms like Google Hangouts, Zoom, and Skype to take advantage of these opportunities, and do not be afraid to reach out to people you see at these events!
Always ask questions!
When given the opportunity to interact with an employer or professional in your desired career, always ask questions. This shows you are a good listener. Not only will you stand out, but the person speaking will feel valued. According to the Harvard Business Report, many people tend to hold back on asking questions in professional settings because they are more focused on sharing their ideas and making a good impression. However, the best impression is made by being a good listener and connecting with the person you are interacting with. Ask as many questions as possible and always have things you want to discuss before any formal meeting!
Maintaining your connections
As you start to build your connections, it is important to maintain the relationship! After meeting someone new, reach out to them and let them know you appreciate the time they took to speak with you. In addition, you can get insight on how the job market in your desired industry is fairing and see if there are any opportunities you can take advantage of.