Make Social And Professional Connections

Studying in college is an exciting chapter in life. After all, it’s considered the ‘finishing touches’ on your educational journey and the first step towards your dream career. Between studying and meeting new people taking the same course, it’s safe to say that college is brimming with new experiences.

However, many alumni and experts advise undergraduates to focus more on how beneficial college is to their careers. Not because you’re studying materials that are related to it but because of the connections you can make. Granted, you’ll build new relationships when you step foot on campus. Still, the connections you’d want for your career might require a little more effort to find.

What Is Networking?

Building connections with people in your field is how networking happens. Normally, these people are professionals with extensive industry experience or a stable foothold. Although some may consider it a ‘shortcut’ in starting a career, networking is meant to be built on genuine and consistent relationships, like any long-lasting friendships you’d create throughout life.

Unfortunately, those who try making connections in colleges often consist of inexperienced students. Instead of connecting with people, they might come off as asking for favors or only seeing their connections as stepping stones toward their goals.  

Here are some tips on how to prevent that from happening:

1. List Down Goals

People start networking in the first place to meet people they can use as references in their careers. Considering their lack of experience, college students need as many references as possible to improve their chances of getting hired at their dream company. However, others might consider networking to reinforce their resume.

Networking brings all kinds of benefits to college students. After all, only a few opportunities drop by their doorstep the moment they graduate. But with the connections they’ve made, they might be one step closer to getting the career they want.  

Although, between schoolwork and networking, you might end up neglecting one over the other with how easy it is to get carried away. Hence, instead of aimlessly building your network, set a milestone. For example, you must have five new connections by the end of the month. List down realistic goals to help develop your path straight.

2. Make Your Script

Making friends at dormitories and apartments at or other living establishments requires a script. Granted, all you need to tell people you first met is your name. Regardless, that’s the bare minimum when meeting new people.

In networking, you need more than your name. Considering who you’re meeting are people in the same field as you or—even better—professionals, they might consider you ‘nameless’ in a way that there’s nothing noteworthy about your name. Instead of finding it demeaning, use this opportunity to create a sales pitch about yourself. 

Imagine yourself as someone taking a summer job. Since plenty of other college students do the same thing once summer rolls in, figure out what makes you stand out for the employer to hire you. Think of it as making a resume, except you’re supposed to slip it into a conversation. 

In your script, include your experience and achievements you’ve received throughout your college life. It could be a project you’ve submitted in class or an award for a school contest. As long as it’s related to your field, any experience is worth mentioning.

3. Start Early

With hundreds of students on campus, standing out might be arduous, given you roughly possess similar skill sets. However, starting early gives you ample opportunity to find the right connections. You can even take your time building your network since it’s not as pressing as doing everything right before graduation. 

Networking early can be done in the small things; coming to class is undoubtedly up there. Although it’s supposed to be a no-brainer, even doing that simple task opens plenty of chances for potential networks, namely with classmates and professors. 

Even if they’re not professionals, connecting with classmates is a long-term investment. Because not only will you find kindred spirits to share your college experiences with, but they might eventually become business partners. After all, they won’t be students forever. Someday, you might need help starting a business. Instead of going through the trouble of processing new hires, you must contact any of your former classmates that fit the requirements.

As for your professors, they’re often rich with experience, especially those who have been in the field for a long time already. Since they’ve been teaching for so long, they likely taught promising students leading successful careers. Not only that, but your professors might know age-old tips and insider knowledge about the industry that could help you in the long run.

4. Dress To Impress

Only a few people would entertain those who put little effort into their outfits, especially at professional gatherings. After all, dressing poorly might come off as you’re not taking your work seriously. Take your time picking the right outfits for your wardrobe. However, avoid going overboard when dressing up for professional events since you came to them for advice and insight.  

5. Prepare Materials

Once you have an outfit in mind, ensure you’ve collected everything you’ll need at the event. Because as helpful as it is to have your sales pitch memorized, it doesn’t hurt to have appropriate materials that can further solidify everything you’ve said. After all, given how busy they must be, keeping track of everyone’s names they’ve met might be too much. Prepare copies of your resume to hand out quickly—or even better, create business cards for mobility.

6. Take Advantage Of Available Resources 

Colleges are brimming with helpful resources, not because of the students and professors there but because of the number of career opportunities they offer. Since the college administration realized their students were one step closer to attaining their dream jobs, they established career centers and school events for different courses. Some colleges even have alumni associations for students to reach out to previous students alongside organizations and clubs.

Look up every career opportunity found in your college. Check diligently if the campus career centers have job openings or internships posted recently. Attend job fairs to spread your name and resume around. Be an active participant in everything going on at the campus, so you’re unlikely to miss out on anything.

7. Practice Different Ways To Communicate

There are different modes of communication that you need to maximize. For example, social media sites like LinkedIn can be used to establish your professional presence online. You can also follow social media groups from your college that offer legitimate job openings. Strike a conversation with them through chat and ask meaningful questions about the company they’re working at.

Aside from social media, don’t forget to use your email. One practice that college students must familiarize themselves with is cold emailing. Since professionals often leave their contact information, send them an email. Be respectful and genuine when asking them for advice or recommendations. Don’t forget to mention that you’re still a college student, so they might be more inclined to help.

8. Nurture Connections

Like your personal relationships, networking requires you to invest time and effort in maintaining them. After all, your connections are more than references and recommendations. Tell them how much you appreciate the time and advice they’ve given you. Consider recounting an anecdote of how you applied their advice to show them you’re actively listening to them the entire time. Be respectful of them no matter what.


Networking at college is an excellent opportunity to kickstart your career path, especially when you start early. Because the earlier you are, the more connections you can create when you have time. Since you have ample opportunity to find connections, you can prepare yourself and research possible career opportunities that your campus provides. Furthermore, you’re more likely to nurture the networks you’ve made until you graduate.

By Punit