After graduating from college and entering the workforce, many young professionals feel helpless. Navigating the job market as a recent graduate is difficult, between finding opportunities and excelling at the few jobs you manage to land. Your peers seem to have it easy, but why? The answer is strong networks. With a well-developed and strong professional network, recent graduates can find exclusive opportunities and professional advice and support. However, networking isn’t always a simple task. Done wrong, you could waste your time struggling to build a network. To avoid this, there are simple tasks and strategies for building a robust professional network.
Take Advantage of Your Age
Right out of college after graduating, people are the most willing to assist you. Established professionals are eager to reach out to younger, newer employees and lend guidance and advice. Connect and establish relationships with your professional peers, as mentoring relationships will benefit your career. As a recent graduate, seek to absorb as much information from your older peers as possible. Take notes, reach out, and don’t be afraid of asking questions.
Make Proper Introductions
Whether the person you are meeting is the CEO or a low-level manager, make sure to make a good first impression. Introduce yourself in a professional manner and display genuine interest, dedication, and eagerness. As a tip, introduce yourself at the end of events—studies show that your interaction will be more memorable to the other person. Don’t be afraid of introducing yourself to strangers, as the only way to grow your professional network is by making connections with others.
Contact People After Meeting Them
While introducing yourself to other people is the first step to forming professional relationships, a vital component of networking is maintaining communication. After meeting someone, follow up with them and seek to establish a regular pattern of communication or conversation. Through working to maintain active connections and relationships with your professional peers, you will develop a stronger network of people. The better you know someone, the more likely they are to help you and provide guidance.
Although networking largely consists of asking other people questions and reaching out to your peers, you must also keep yourself accessible to others. As a recent graduate, you may not hold seniority or status, but you can always contribute something to your peers. Encourage people to ask you questions, connect with you, and hold conversations. By keeping yourself open, you are allowing other people to do the hard work and make connections for you.
As a recent graduate, networking will be a powerful tool to utilize to find opportunities and build your career. In fact, upwards of 80% of jobs are never listed or advertised—instead, they are filled through networking. Thus, making connections is essential. Keep in touch with those classmates of yours and reach out to friends, family, and your professional peers. Because someday, your connections will come in handy, whether that is being recommended for a job or gaining advice from an established professional.