Congratulations! Not only did you get into the school of your dreams, you are almost done with your classes! But…if you are like most students, you may not understand what to do next. Here’s what you won’t learn in your classes.
I know you’ve heard the term, but do you really understand what it means? Despite what you may think, networking does not mean contacting random strangers and asking for a job. No! Networking is about building relationships. This means beginning to put yourself out there in a way that’s helpful to others. In a way that they will remember you, recognize you so that when you do finally ask them for a job, or a job lead, you won’t be a stranger. They will be happy to help you, since you are a valued connection.
How do you do this? Well, you must begin introducing yourself. Start telling people you are a student, and tell them about your career aspirations. As you get closer to graduation, begin to formulate where you want to work and why. Add this to your “elevator speech”- a short (approximately 30 seconds) spiel about who you are and what you are looking for. Think of the time an elevator would take to go from the ground to the top floor, and that’s the amount of time you’ll have to pitch yourself to the decision maker that is (trapped) in the elevator with you.
But you need to also show an interest in others first. Look for genuine connections. For example, if your doctor also has a daughter in a graduate counseling program, ask him or her how the daughter is doing. It is likely that in return they will ask about you, and then viola! Give your elevator speech. Be creative. Here are some sources of future contacts that you probably wouldn’t think of on your own:
- Family friends
- Sports teams
- Co-workers (be careful! Don’t tell the boss!)
- Chamber of Commerce
- Other job seekers (share your leads!)
- Volunteer work
- Service providers (ie. dentist)
- Professional organizations
- Social media (ie. LinkedIn)
A few quick words about social media. LinkedIn is where all the decision makers hang out, so you’ll definitely want to create a profile there and start making connections. For more detail and suggestions on creating a great profile, please see my previous post about LinkedIn.
Yours in the Joy of Knowledge,