Author: Prashant Mishra, MIS ’22 (University at Buffalo-School of Management)
"Networking is not about just connecting people. It's about connecting people with people, people with ideas, and people with opportunities." -- Michele Jennae
It can be intimidating at first to reach out to people to build a professional network as a student. However, there’s no denying the power a strong professional network can have over your career success. When it’s done well, networking will help you create a strong community and give you a competitive edge throughout every stage of your career.
Most importantly, the sooner you start to network, the sooner your network will help you do your job better or get the job you want. For example, a hiring manager for a particular job opening will receive hundreds of applications along with yours, so what makes your profile stand out in the crowd? A top-notch resume and a strong LinkedIn profile will help you but having a strong recommendation from a current employee with the company or a mutual connection will help make your resume stand out.
Below are few networking tips which can help build a strong professional network:
1) Start in your classes – Yes, this is the easiest way to start building your network. Make friends, talk about similar career interests. This not only helps in getting diverse knowledge but will also help you to discuss any job openings or internship opportunities which you might have missed and, after a few years, your friend might be working in one of your dream companies. Your connection will help you to get that recommendation to the hiring manager for a job opening that you might be interested in.
2) Get involved on campus – This is another way to build a vast and diverse network. Participating in professional clubs, public speaking events, professional events, and working with the Career Resource Centre are few of the many opportunities to talk to many people from diverse fields and areas of expertise. For example, if you are part of the team that organises professional events and invite corporate guests to speak to students, it will help you build a personal connection with the speaker. This might help you in future if there are any relevant openings with that corporate guest or you may get a recommendation from that person.
3) Be active on LinkedIn – This is one of the most important spaces as far as networking is concerned for professionals. Keep your profile updated, post any achievements or any new projects that you completed and learnings that you gained from that project. This will help you increase your presence and help you build confidence and improve writing skills.
Also don’t be afraid to reach out to people on LinkedIn, some might reply some may not. Only thing to keep in mind is to send a note while sending a connection request with some details about yourself and why you are asking for guidance and how it will help you in preparing for that role.
4) Maintain Network: Last but not least, it is very important to maintain your network. Don’t just consider this as a one-time activity. Having a personal connection with your network will help you in the long run in your career.
Prashant is a graduate student at UB School of Management pursuing his master's in management information systems. He hails from Madhya Pradesh - "Heart of India". After completing his bachelor's degree in engineering from Pune University, Prashant worked with multiple IT giants like Atos, Cognizant, Tieto both in the Services and Product domain.
He is a Singer, Novice DJ, Art, Antique and Coin collector and loves meeting new people .
He is full of life and believes that it is never too late to start following your dreams or passion.
After completing his master's from UB he plans of working in the Healthcare domain where he can combine his expertise of technology and knowledge of healthcare to positively improve and impact patient's life and experience.