As the new semester begins, it’s important to start strong and use new classes as an opportunity to meet people and make connections. Networking is a skill that’s important to use not only in clubs and professional organizations but as well as in your daily life. You never know when someone who may seem like just a normal acquaintance can become the source of good opportunities in your future. For example, the person you are sitting next to in your class might seem like another ordinary college student like you, but by taking a chance to talk to them and make a connection with them, you are opening yourself up to opportunities that may arise from your friendship with them!
Networking is a broad term that may refer to many different ways of connecting with people. The way most people think of it is in its formal sense, such as meeting older professionals at career fairs or networking events. While those are very important places to network, starting simple with the people surrounding you can be great practice because they are easily accessible and there is usually less pressure.
Networking on a daily basis is much easier than it sounds. The most important thing to remember is to be friendly and talk about what you have in common with the other person(s). Common ground is always a great way to form a lasting connection with others because it allows you to get to know other people. It’s also important to not only talk to people with the sole intention of making a connection but to talk to them and get to know them with respect. This applies to both networking on a daily basis as well as networking at professional events with companies. Once you find a mutual topic that you two can talk about, it’ll be easier to digress into other topics (like future job opportunities, perhaps!)
One great networking opportunity for anyone in CWIB is to simply reach out and connect with upperclassmen in CWIB. Though it may be daunting, remember that they were in your place and can help you! “During my sophomore year, I had a coffee chat with one of the co-founders to ask for advice on how to land an internship. I didn’t just walk out of that meeting with tips on how to get an internship, but I also formed a relationship with her,” senior Heather Sangalang shared. “The following year, she reached out to me and told me about an internship opportunity with the firm she works at now, and if I did not make that connection the previous year, I may not have this job opportunity! I am where I am now because of making this connection.” This goes to show that getting to know your peers is not only great because you get to gain a new friend, but also because it’s wonderful to enter the professional work-world with connections.
Aside from getting to know your peers and forming professional connections with them, it is also a good idea to talk to your professors and get to know them. The best way to form a connection with a professor in your field is just to introduce yourself, visit during office hours, and get to know them! Many times, you may learn a lot about the field or career you want to enter by speaking with your professors. In my case, when I spoke to my Economics professor, I got the opportunity to participate in economics experiments and studies, and get paid for doing so! Networking also applies to club or organization sponsors, advisors, and other professional people you may be in contact with. If you make the effort to get to know them, you can learn a lot about how they got to where they were, and the different routes you can take in your career. This is also a valuable part of networking, and a fantastic incentive to step out of your comfort zone and talk to others.
Ultimately, the choice to speak up and meet people or sit back and observe quietly is your own. Remember, networking in college before entering the professional world doesn’t have to begin at job fairs or organizations. Taking the first step to start in your classes on a daily basis will prepare you for the professional world and give you the opportunity to practice with your peers. Collegiate Women in Business events are great places to practice your networking! The next monthly meeting is on February 6th, so we encourage you to approach someone you don’t already know and start up a conversation! See you all there!
By: Lina al Taii