It’s never too early to start networking your way to a better future. The people you meet today could be your connection to a new career, but you need to begin forging those relationships now. Here are 5 important ways you can do just that:
1. Make a business card. Even if you’re still in school, you probably already have a skillset you could highlight in the hyper-short format of a business card. All it really needs to contain, though, is your name and contact information. A resume may give the details of your work experience and education, but it’s just not practical to carry wherever you go. On the other hand, a business card is super convenient, makes you look like the professional you hope to become and entices your contact to share their own info so you can follow up with an email or phone call.
2. Reach out to your existing circles. Contact friends, coworkers and teachers who are in the career you hope to have and let them know you’re on your way there. In fact, tell everyone about your future plans. Connections are formed over time and you can’t possibly know all your friends-of-friends. The wider your networking circle, the more likely you are to find people who can help you land a future job.
3. Create new circles. Join organizations and clubs at your school. At Career Quest Learning Centers, our students create connections in groups like the Student Council and the National Technical HonorSociety. Try joining clubs off campus, too. If you’re an IT student, you might consider a student membership in an organization like the Association of Information Technology Professionals. However, the clubs don’t have to be career-focused. Charitable organizations offer a great opportunity to do good while you connect with like-minded people –and you never know where those connections might lead.
4. Get online. If you’re not already on social media, it’s time you are. Just be certain that the face you present to the world is representative of the professional you want to be. LinkedIn is an especially effective tool for career searches, notifying you of jobs that fit your search criteria. And it makes it super easy to check out the connections of people you already know.
5. Get a mentor. There are people in your field who would be happy to serve as mentor to someone like you! Do a bit of research and find those who have the kind of career you’re pursuing. Then, just ask them a few questions; it doesn’t have to be anything formal. People like sharing their stories and they especially like to know that there’s a new generation as interested in their field as they are.