Walking out of college with a degree is worthless. Think about it: Everyone entering the job market has a degree. Unless you’re some child prodigy that 18 years old and graduating from college, you and your degree don’t stand out from anyone else. Few employers want that candidate.
What you do in college, the relationships you build and the network that you construct is where your value comes from when you walk across the stage. College is the start of your network. If you graduated and you’ve got no network to call upon, you’ve failed. What better time is there to start building your professional network other than right out of college?
The good news is that since you’re reading this blog, there’s a good chance that you are thinking ahead and know the importance of connecting with other people. The power of a network lies in the number of connected people squared. Take that to heart, but regardless of the size of your network, I hope these four tips can help you expand it.
Meetup groups connect you with ‘likeminded’ professionals
Meetups are fish in a barrel. Where else are you going to get a group of likeminded people talking about and obsessing over their craft?
Meetup.com is my go-to resource for finding meetups in any city. When I go to a new place, I like to check out the upcoming tech meetups to see if there are any scheduled while I’m there. If there are, I might pop by, introduce myself and make a few friends. You never know where a few weak ties may lead you.
Alumni groups continue the relationships you started building in college
If you’re a student or an alumnus, look into the alumni groups available through your college or university’s website. Alumni groups are usually a solid network of people who interact on a semi-regular basis. The great part about interacting with these groups is that you already have something in common when you contact them. Use that talking point as an ice breaker for your introduction. Dive into alumni groups on LinkedIn as well to find people who are hiring.
Twitter is the “Swiss Army Knife” of online networking
You should be connecting with people on Twitter on a regular basis. Twitter is great for building relationships, your brand and your network.
Follow up interactions with an invitation to connect on LinkedIn and keep your newfound friends and connections close. Keep them updated with what you’re doing and try to add value to each others’ lives.
Build your own network
Another great place to start is in your own backyard. Send a few messages out asking people to connect you with someone they know in your particular area of interest. Let them reach into their networks to begin to facilitate yours.
I’m always happy to connect and meet anyone and everyone I can. I love to help those who are in my network with connections to others who may be beneficial. You can find every link you need to reach me on About.me or on my blog, TheStartupStudent.com