In the job market, who you know matters just as much (if not more) as what you know. Even if you graduate from college with a stellar academic record and a diverse resume of internships and activities, you may find it difficult to get a job interview without a substantial network of professional contacts. Here is some networking advice to help you land that first entry level position.
While you’re still in college, your school will likely host several professional networking conferences that will allow you to meet and mingle with alumni that now work in your desired field. Don’t let these chances pass you by! A couple of hours of polite conversation and hand shaking can open a career door that previously did not exist for you.
Just because you’ve introduced yourself to a potential contact doesn’t mean that person will be likely to help you. You need to develop a meaningful, professional relationship much like you would a new friendship. One of the best ways to do this is through asking questions. Prepare a list of basic questions to ask networking contacts about their past experience and future goals along with more general questions about their industry. By demonstrating interest about someone else’s professional life, you’ll encourage him or her to take interest in yours as well.
Don’t forget to follow up with professionals after a networking event! If you get a business card, send him or her a quick email thanking them for their time along with some new questions to keep the conversation and relationship going.