Student Networking Tips
 From An Irvine College Consultant

It’s more important now than ever for teens to start networking the minute they arrive on campus. However, many students have not yet determined the minute but all important differences between genuine and insincere networking. Although making connections is important, students should ensure that all of their interactions are genuine and that they have something to offer their connections in return. When done right, networking can lead to fabulous job opportunities in the future. However, insincere interactions can go disastrously wrong.


1. Networking is a Two-Way Street

It’s important to remember that students are all at the same point in life and that they can help each other out. This doesn’t mean that every favor must be kept in record and returned in kind but one-way networkers are usually left out in the cold.  If it’s not possible for a student to add significantly to their networking community, they should understand the inherent value of a “thank you” note. Simple acknowledgment is a form of networking in and of itself (CLICK: “The dos and don’ts of student networking”).

2.  The Power of “Please” and “Thank You”

Many students receive recommendations or opportunities that they cannot repay. Generation Y should never forget the power of a handwritten thank you note. Email, texts, and eCards are not appropriate when it comes to a proper “thank you” within the professional networking system. If a professor, classmate, or any other member of the professional networking community does someone a genuine favor, a hand written “thank you” note should always be provided. This is something that was common and mandatory for Generation X but is quickly falling by the wayside. The formality of “please” and “thank you” never goes out of style.

3. Networking with a Professor or Professional in the Field

When networking with seasoned professionals, it’s important to either pay it forward or pay it back. If a professor or professional writes a letter of recommendation or offers an interview, it’s important that students provide appropriate positive feedback on job sites or offer to write a letter of recommendation for said professional. students should be advised that, if they’re not able to provide a networking opportunity in return, they can certainly pay it forward in the future. Graduates of 2015 will be seasoned professionals in 2025 and are advised to provide the same internship opportunities, interviews, or tips and tricks of the trade to the next generation when the time comes.

4. Study Group Etiquette

Students are advised to remember appropriate study group etiquette. Students are expected to contribute to the group as a whole and to participate fully in group projects. This can be especially difficult for students who attend a college or university that grades on a curve. Many students are concerned about their graduation ranking and become overly concerned with a sink-or-swim academic situation. It’s important for students to both protect themselves and continue to add to their student community in productive and appropriate ways. If nothing else, it will be a great learning experience for future on-the-job experiences (READ: “How to Make Extracurricular Activities Extra Significant”)

5. Volunteer or Start a Club

Volunteering is one of the best ways that a student can network because, once in junior year, many students do not have a chance to network outside of their own major. In reality, the vast majority of American students will work with an amalgam of people with different educational backgrounds once they start their career. Volunteering in a club that attracts students from across the campus will allow students to have a chance to gain different perspectives and network across a broad spectrum. Better yet, students who have an entrepreneurial spirit are encouraged start a club. Although a vast time commitment is required, students who maintain the authority to start and keep a club going will often be viewed as leaders and can receive the respect and admiration of their peers. Leadership skills and an entrepreneurial spirit are both fabulous qualities to demonstrate as a student networker.

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