Tasks, dates, times, and deadlines can dominate the college admissions process. I’m proposing you add one more: networking. Here’s why I think it’s invaluable.
What is Networking?
Networking is a way to build bridges with others. An effective network of professionals can help you discover new opportunities. Additionally, networking gives you the chance to offer your own expertise and guidance to others.
As colleges become more competitive, a good network is increasingly vital. Effective networking can help an applicant find jobs, internships, and other opportunities.
Networking establishes credibility. The act of networking can be time-consuming: reaching out, following up, and constantly establishing new relationships require a level of commitment that few teenagers have. As a result, professionals will associate reliability, trust, and integrity with networkers.
How Can I Network Effectively?
Like riding a bike, networking requires practice, and practice amplifies the quality of networking. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
Do’s of networking
- Be willing to approach others who share a personal goal of yours. Example: approach the regional counselor for your dream school.
- Be professional. Formally present yourself, use a firm handshake, and remember that first impressions stick.
- Have background knowledge on subjects you anticipate discussing.
- Be prepared to establish how you will contribute in a meaningful way.
- To network effectively, the first conversation must have a takeaway. Learn something from them, perhaps thoughtful feedback.
- Ask for a business card with an email address.
- Send a follow-up email thanking him/her for their time.
- Further the relationship by remaining in touch. Send emails during holidays, or when you have achieved a major goal.
Don’ts of networking
- Don’t come off as exploitative. You’re not associating with others with the goal of selfishly benefitting.
- Don’t network without a purpose. Every networking opportunity should have a short- and long-term goal.
- Don’t take a long time to reply to emails. Doing so shows a lack of engagement, interest, and professionalism.
- Don’t show up late to a meeting that you have scheduled; you will appear unorganized and disrespectful.
- Don’t use first names, unless offered. Use Professor, Dr., Mr., or Ms. before last names.
- Don’t lie. Networking is about developing good relationships with others, and lying will come back to haunt you.
- Don’t try to build numerous weak relationships. Instead, focus on developing strong and significant ones, even if there are fewer.
Make networking a part of your lifestyle. Develop the habit of approaching others, trying to connect, and maintaining long-lasting relationships. Remember to be sincere, and advance each interaction with purpose. Networking can serve as the foundation of a more opportune future.
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