As you may have read in my previous post about how to network, I discussed some basic tips on how to conduct yourself at your first event. Today, I’m going to talk specifically to UMD students and provide some suggestions on all of the places and events you can network at, in case some of you are still in the dark. I’m sure by now you’ve heard repeatedly how important networking is or even already heard numerous tips about how to succeed at it outside of my own advice, but once you are given that info, it seems to be that everyone expects you to find out where to go on your own from there. To prevent that, I have listed some common networking areas as well as some upcoming opportunities that I think all of you should consider when dipping your toes in the networking waters.
Alumni Networking (November 19!)
A great upcoming opportunity to network for UMD students is the upcoming alumni networking event downtown at the Greysolon Plaza. This is a great chance to meet with other UMD graduates and gain some insight on what other students did to get to where they are today after graduation. In addition to having a bit more to relate about, this event is a little more casual and is a great time to practice networking for the first time.
Although the bigger job fairs have come and gone this fall, there are still opportunities in the spring to attend. Job fairs are great for networking because it puts a large number of employers all in one spot and they are all there to talk to you students. Theses types of events can be a bit more challenging networking-wise, so I would encourage any of you to attend our workshops about job fair success and networking.
A lot of companies who recruit on campus tend to have their own information sessions outside of campus. These are a great opportunity to network with employees at a specific company who you might be interested in working for. They tend to be more laid back than job fairs, with most supporting a casual environment. If you would like to get your foot in a door with a company, this is one of the first steps I recommend taking. Make sure to collect business cards, have conversations with as many people as you can, and don’t forget to follow up afterwards.
Join On Campus Organizations
Many student groups offer numerous opportunities to network with people working in particular fields or areas of interest. Groups like Management Club and Accounting Club provide many opportunities to meet recruiters and firms. Also, organizations that are more active on campus-related issues tend to have great connections to the greater Duluth community. Determine what you are interested in and consider joining some extra-curricular groups on campus, it looks great on your resume and provides lots of direct networking opportunities.
Use Your Connections
Family and friends are great resources when looking to expand your network. Some of you may have heard of the 6 steps of separation and have used it to some degree. Basically the theory is that everyone in the world is connected in six or fewer degrees of separation, or that you know anyone through a friend of a friend of a friend… etc. Keeping this in mind, your networking opportunities increase massively by integrating yourself into other people’s networks as well. I have found this to be one of the most beneficial forms of networking that I have experienced to date. It is really easy to use this method to begin your networking process as you can start with familiar faces and build your way up. Start asking your friends and family about anyone they know that might be interested to talk to you about your career goals and what you are looking for in terms of employment. A meeting over coffee or lunch has always seemed appropriate for this type of networking and best of all, you have a one-on-one interaction and little distraction such as what the setting is like at a job fair.
Above are just a small number of places that you can network at, but what I have to tell you is that when you really find yourself in the career world, the best professionals know and will tell you that networking never stops and that there is an opportunity for it in even the most seemingly unlikely of places. Take a look at this article and you will find that you may find connections anywhere, so building these skills early on is crucial.