Once upon a time, the term “networking” was primarily reserved for individuals mingling in circles with shrewd businessmen and high-powered executives. Thanks to the rise of social media, networking has become a skill that is widely accessible to both seasoned entrepreneurs and aspiring professionals alike. For students at the university level, it’s important to understand how networking can help build connections that lead to success in the business world.
Beyond Social Networking
Social media is a very practical introduction to networking. Whether it’s establishing a presence on LinkedIn or blogger outreach via one of the many blogging platforms, the sheer size of these channels makes the social web worth looking into. However, the typical college student doesn’t need to look far for answers. That’s right. The university campus is brimming with people who can form the very foundation of your network. These connections can go a long way in not only increasing your number of credible references, but helping develop social skills that prove handy in the future as well.
The Event Scene
Recognizing the networking potential on campus is merely a starting point. In order to make an impact, you must get out there and rub elbows with other like-minded folks. The good thing is that Indiana University hosts a plethora of events that can put you on the right track. From annual fairs offering lucrative career opportunities to workshops built around specific industries, these events are tailor-made for networking. There are hundreds of functions that take place across the IU network, so it’s always a good idea to check resources that will help you stay current with the events for your campus.
Some university events are hosted by administrative leadership. Others are put together by members of the study body itself. In many cases, these events consist of functions designed for the sole purpose of bringing like-minded individuals together to participate in fundraisers, group trips, and various other activities. A classic example is an intramural sports club, which is typically managed by the students opposed to a traditional coaching staff. Whether you’re purely involved in academics or split time between athletics, a student organization can play an integral role in building your network.
The Mentor Factor
One of the most effective ways to brush up on your networking skills is to ingratiate yourself with the people firmly cemented in the positions you aspire to reach. IU is home to a plethora of mentorship programs, including the Mentorship Apprentice Program or MAP. Through MAP, students have an opportunity to improve skills that help them excel as both scholars and mentors. In addition, a good mentorship program can provide you with practical advice on navigating the often hectic process of internships and choosing a career field.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to embrace the art of networking before officially stepping into the professional world. That said, you should never undervalue the importance of simply opening up and talking to more people. Chatting with classmates in between periods. Sharing interesting stories on Instagram — it all qualifies as networking and more importantly, it’s organic!