College Students MUST Network

College Students MUST Network

College Students MUST Network

Blog116_NetworkingForStudents_Columbia-300x200 College Students MUST NetworkLast week, Konversai’s CEO & Founder Sushma Sharma spoke at an orientation for Master’s students in statistics at Columbia University on networking and time management. In this week’s post, you’ll find Sushma’s nuggets of wisdom on networking for students. (Stay tuned for a future post discussing her useful time management tips.)

First, a few tips on networking:

Blog116_NetworkingForStudents_TwoMenTalking-300x200 College Students MUST NetworkChange Your Mindset: When it comes to networking, the first thing that students need to do is adjust their mindset. So often when people think of networking, they think “What can this person do for me?” This thinking needs to stop. Networking is not solely about one person doing something for someone else—it is a mutually beneficial relationship. Students must remember that they do have much to offer and that they can add value.

Blog116_NetworkingForStudents_Diverse-Group-232x300 College Students MUST NetworkThe Importance of an Open Network: Secondly, as human beings, we are naturally drawn to people who are similar to us. However, this is to our detriment when it comes to networking. Spending time only with people like us—ethnically, religiously, politically, educationally, or otherwise—creates a closed network. How can we learn, grow, and develop if we only associate with people who share our perspective? We need to consciously avoid this behavior and actively seek out people who are not “our type.” We must start seeing diversity as an asset, not a limitation.

Be Proactive: Students need to be proactive when it comes to networking. Do not just reach out to people when you need them. Reach out to them beforehand and continue to build the relationship over time. Take your time and give thought to how you will approach people, for example attending office hours or scheduling coffee meetings.

Blog116_NetworkingForStudents_SocialMedia-300x200 College Students MUST NetworkNetworking in the World of Social Media: Finally, networking is not limited to the time you physically spend with a person. It also includes your social media presence. Remember that regardless of your settings, anything that you post on social media can and will be seen by others, including potential bosses, professors, and mentors. Take some time to go through all of your social media accounts—Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and any others—and make sure you are putting your best self out there.

So now that you have an idea of what networking is and isn’t, how do you actually go about it?

The Hows:

Blog116_NetworkingForStudents_FancyEvent-300x200 College Students MUST NetworkAttend Events: This includes alumni events, job fairs, meetups, and online webinars. Be action-oriented. For example, perhaps you can volunteer to help run an event. This shows that you take initiative and are dependable and connected. That said, think about what events you want to attend and be strategic. Remember that you have a limited amount of time in a week, so don’t try to attend every single event your campus has to offer. That is inefficient and downright exhausting. Think about your goals and attend events accordingly.

Blog116_NetworkingForStudents_ComputerNotebook-300x200 College Students MUST NetworkCome Prepared: Before you attend an event, know who will be present. Look at the LinkedIn profiles of all of the speakers and/or organizers so you have a better idea of who they are. This will help you come up with questions—and you definitely want to ask questions (more on this shortly). Remember that there is no connection that is not good.

Arrive Early: This shows that you are conscientious. Arriving early is especially helpful if you are introverted, as there will be fewer people and you will have more opportunities for quality conversations.

Set Realistic Goals: If you are attending a large event, it is not realistic to expect to connect with every single participant or attendee. Try to aim for 4-5 meaningful connections per event.

Blog116_NetworkingForStudents_ConferenceQuestion-300x200 College Students MUST NetworkAsk Open-Ended Questions: Questions should not simply be “yes or no” questions. They should be informed and well thought out. People love talking about themselves and their areas of expertise, so don’t be shy. There is no such thing as a stupid question. Remember that everyone is there for the same reason, so if you have a question, the chances are that someone else in the room has the same or a similar question.

Blog116_NetworkingForStudents_ManWomanMeeting-300x200 College Students MUST NetworkBe Genuine: For lack of a better word, people can easily detect bullshit. Don’t try to be something you’re not. Be yourself. Remember that no matter who you are, where you’re from, or what you do, you have something of value to offer. There’s nothing to fake, so own it. Also remember that networking is a symbiotic process, so show a genuine interest in the other person. Balance listening with speaking; asking questions with talking about yourself. If you see the interaction as purely transactional, it will not work.

Blog116_NetworkingForStudents_Email-300x200 College Students MUST NetworkFollow Up: Once you have connected with someone, follow up with them. Immediately after an event, send an email reminding the person who you are, where you met them, and briefly what you discussed. Let them know that it was a pleasure meeting them and that you appreciate their time. If there is an action item involved and you haven’t heard from them in a few days, do not be afraid to follow up with another email or a phone call. Also, if you come across an article, book, or opportunity that you think could be useful or relevant to the other person, send them an email and let them know. They will be flattered to know that you thought of them. Depending on the nature of your relationship with the person, it is not a bad idea to send an email every few months asking them how they’re doing and what they’re up to and sharing any of your own updates. If you have achieved a milestone, acknowledge their role if relevant and express your appreciation.

Blog116_NetworkingForStudents_ManWomanCoffeeMeeting-200x300 College Students MUST NetworkPractice Makes Perfect: Keep putting yourself out there and practicing your networking skills. Over time you will develop your style and figure out what works and doesn’t work for you.

IMG_0372-237x300 College Students MUST NetworkIf you’d like to connect with Sushma one-on-one—or anyone else, for that matter—you can do so on Konversai. Konversai is a global knowledge-sharing platform that allows for live video conversations with anyone anywhere about anything. It was founded under the premise that all personal knowledge is valuable and that everybody, no matter their life circumstances or where they live, has something to offer that will benefit somebody somewhere. You can network with some seriously impressive people on Konversai, including actors and actresses, business leaders, artists, athletes, coaches, teachers, and others. Come find who you are looking for or seek someone specifically. On Konversai, you can be both a provider and a seeker of knowledge. Get on Konversai today and start making connections and having conversations and making relationships that will undoubtedly enrich your life and the lives of others.

By Sushma Sharma 

Edited by Pavita Singh

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