Get Connected! Networking Goes Virtual.
The virtual world has become a non-negotiable resource for college students this year. Due to the global pandemic, we have become an online community, and now there seems to be more opportunities on the internet than in the classroom. My agenda is now filled with Zoom classes and meetings, and my screen time is at an all time high. And we know it’s not just college students--it’s the whole world! We have all been forced to go virtual.
Here’s the sad part: we’ve all gone virtual. Our interpersonal connections, both professionally and personally, have been impacted due to the concern over the virus.
But, here’s the good part: we’ve all gone virtual! We’re all one click away from connecting with each other without even leaving our room.
The world is suddenly smaller, more interconnected, and more convenient than we think. This is the perfect opportunity to connect with people that a year ago seemed impossible to connect with. Virtual networking is an area of opportunity for students to learn and associate themselves to the professional world that is now conveniently in the palm of our hands. Quite literally! The online world is in our phones 24/7.
Here are a few ways you can begin your networking journey:
Become an active LinkedIn Member
This social media platform is a great professional gateway to networking, job offers, and other professional pursuits. LinkedIn is the perfect way to send cold messages to people you might be interested in speaking with. Connect with people and send them a customized message as to why you are connecting with them.
I have been able to do networking phone calls with Disney Imagineers and Disney executives because I sent them a message on LinkedIn. Take time throughout your week to look into expanding your network and getting connected with possible mentors.
Know What You’re Looking For
Before you get started, you have to know your purpose and goals so that you can find not just any network but the right network. Create a document of career goals and questions that you might want to ask someone who is already in the industry. I personally created a list of companies that I would dream of working for and roles that might fit my personality. I keep it as a vision board that keeps me on a more structured path to find the right people to talk to.
Create a Networking Kit
Create a folder to be your Networking Kit. Think about a script or agenda that will help you connect with people. As a college student, networking is more of an “ask and you shall receive.” So think about how you are going to sell yourself so that a person will grant you an hour of their busy day. I suggest including:
- An introduction of yourself
- Your elevator pitch
- Your reason for reaching out
- A cold email template
- Your most updated resume
- A follow up email template
- A checklist on how you can facilitate the phone call or zoom call
- Anything else that will help prepare you for the networking opportunity!
The worst thing is going into a networking conversation unprepared and not knowing why you even reached out.
The goal here is to have a professional blueprint for someone that will teach you about their professional role. You want to shoot for a long-term relationship. This can be achieved by making a good first impression and establishing them in your professional loop.
Reconnect With Your Past Internship Team
For any students that have completed an internship, you can get started by reconnecting with your team. Schedule a check-in call to see how they are doing. Perhaps they will re-hire you, but nevertheless it is a good way to practice with a familiar face and a polite way to maintain your relationship with your past team.
Find Your DSU Mentor
For DeSales students: The Career Development Center has a network of professionals that have graduated from DeSales University and are eager to sit down with a DSU student. Contact Melanie Vallone to find out more about who you can get in contact with. The best part about connecting with DSU mentors is that you both have one thing in common already. DeSales! Our alumni network is diverse and it is easy to find people from all different fields.
Step Into Your Professional Self
Remember that you are just one person away from finding the right network. Dare to dream big and be connected with people in your ideal company and industry. If you want to work for Facebook, you can find people on LinkedIn that work for Facebook. Shoot the message and share your skills. Do your research and do your due diligence. The possibilities are endless, so you can tackle one possibility at a time when you grow out of your student persona and step into your professional self. In fact, you’ve got the golden ticket by being a college student. You’d be surprised how many professionals love helping out college students.
The virtual world has opened the doors to a whole new networking dynamic. It is so much easier now to get connected with people. You do not have to travel anywhere, and your niche network is one click away! So my fellow students, I challenge you to try reaching out to one person a month and see where that takes you!