As a recent graduate, you may be trying to navigate the transition from college student to career professional. Getting a job may be at the top of your priority list, but you’ll want to take time to focus on another critical area of your professional career — learning how to grow your network.
Having a strong professional network can benefit your career in a number of ways beyond your job search. For example, the people in your network can serve as mentors, help you keep your skills sharp and stay abreast of new trends, and raise your profile in your industry.
Here are 5 of the most effective ways to start building your professional network:
If you had an internship or another job while you were in school, one of the first things to do is reach out to your internship coordinator or another person you had a good relationship with. In the best case scenario, the company has an open position that you’ll be encouraged to apply to and get recommended for. If that opportunity isn’t available, however, maintaining a professional relationship with your contact can position you for future openings or help you secure strong job references.
Joining your school’s alumni network is a great way to grow your network. Alumni networks exist to benefit your alma mater’s community, and it’s likely that someone in this network will know of networking opportunities for you to attend. When this happens, reach out to fellow alumni who are involved in the event and begin a conversation!
While placing your focus on industry-specific endeavors and events can be beneficial, it isn’t the only way to grow your network. While searching for jobs, set aside time to look into volunteer opportunities or recreational activities that spark your interest. By joining these types of groups, you can bolster your resume and make connections with people who can either help you find a job you’re qualified for or help you expand your professional network!
In order to stay up-to-date in your industry, subscribe to and regularly read a couple of industry-specific newsletters. Even when you aren’t working, it’s important to have an eye on current developments and news. When you go to networking events, you’ll be able to hold meaningful discussions and make connections with like-minded professionals in your field.
Even if you aren’t working or attending as many networking events as you would like, staying active and keeping your name out there will help you grow your network. For example, starting a blog can connect you with professionals who you may not have gotten a chance to meet in any other scenario. Not only that, but actively showing interest in your area of expertise can make you the kind of candidate multiple companies would compete for!
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