How students can leverage their networks

Most students find that they are good at building network lists. They may return to campus, come into your office, and proudly present the results of their holiday networking efforts to you.  Your job is to help them maximize their new networks. The first step is to review their resumes, making sure that they’ve added any new activities or skills to their updated resumes. Next, help them develop a game plan on how to leverage their new contacts to generate internships or jobs. Remind them that 69% of jobs are secured through networking.

Encourage your students to evaluate their own needs and goals. What do they want from the people on their networking lists? Internships? Jobs? Referrals? And equally important, what value can they offer to this same group? After identifying goals, it’s time to prioritize the networking list from most desirable to least. Students should research the selected companies and individuals to understand their businesses and roles. Then, students can create a calendar (or you can provide a template), developing a master plan on when to contact each source, follow-up, and evaluate the results.

Once they have their external plan, it’s time to focus on themselves. One place to start is by ranking their skills on interviewing and cover-letter writing in order to help them identify areas that are in need of strengthening. As a career services professional, you might want to point out the helpful workshops and seminars on campus that will be available to your students in the coming semester.

Once your students are ready to begin leveraging their networks, help them take that first step:  as you know, that first email or phone call is the hardest! Help them prepare to ask for an informational interview, set up a luncheon appointment, schedule an office visit or request a job shadow.

Finally, the best thing you can give them is the confidence to make their requests, have their conversations, and follow-up as best they can.

 

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