You may think first thing to turn to is online searching. But if you think about it, it's much more than Google searching something online. It's about personally knowing if someone or something is worth it. How else might you find this personal info out?... PEOPLE! We typically ask around for personal references and experiences. We learn from others, and others actually learn from us! This is just one aspect of what we commonly call NETWORKING!
Networking can also help you in the professional world to market your expertise, interests and strengths. Being a student-athlete can be a full-time job, but if you don't start to make time to meet new people outside of your team and coaches, it may hinder you once you graduate college and are ready to start your career.
Here are some tips on networking that may help you begin at your stage in life right NOW:
// Attend CAREER FAIRS or CONFERENCES
Take advantage if you're a student and attend these types of events that should be completely free for you! And don't just attend these... but take business cards and approach the professionals at the booths and introduce yourself by offering your time and willingness to help them in any way (whether paid or not!). Also, be sure you collect business cards from professionals, and follow-up with an email saying that it was nice to meet them at the career fair/ conference.
// Connect on LINKED
If you haven't created an account on LinkedIN yet, DO SO TODAY! You won't regret it... it's a great way to stay connected with professionals, follow the latest news and updates on companies, and apply for jobs all over the world! They have a live feed (just like you would see on Facebook), which you can scroll through to see any new updates. Comment, like, and follow conversations that help you become more involved in any specific community.
// Ask for INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEWS
You may hear people frequently say, "We're not hiring now." Well, don't let that be your end all be all! Approach someone you may know that works at an organization, and ask if you can set up a half-hour to an hour-long informational interview. In these informational interviews, you can ask questions that help you gain more insight into the organization, department, and job role. Be sure that you spend some time preparing questions ahead of time so you drive the conversation and gain information that will help you in the long run. In addition, professionals remember these conversations, and when something does open up, most likely they would think of you!
// Send monthly EMAILS
Spend a few minutes of your day and send frequent emails to professionals you have met (in-person or virtually). Let them know that you wanted to check-in and see how things are going with them, and to let you know if they ever want to grab some coffee or lunch with you, or have a phone conversation. Meeting with people is a great way to just catch up and see what's going on. You never know how you may be of help with someone, or how they may be able to help you!
Utilize these tips to help you expand your networking circle (or begin one). Our fellow peeps are the greatest gift you can ever ask for, and you can also gift someone else with!
If you are also working on sprucing up your resume, see this post about including sports on your resume.
How do you network?