7 Tips on How to Network in College If You Are Totally Shy
Thanks to a cutthroat economy and highly positive results, networking is officially unavoidable for college students. The importance of networking cannot be understated, even for college students. A 2018 Jobvite Survey revealed that over 35% of recently employed individuals credited networking with getting their jobs.
Networking involves meeting and talking to people, which isn't every college student's cup of tea. For introverted or shy students, networking can quickly get awkward and embarrassing. Let's explore how to network in college for shy students.
1. Start with your passions
Networking has always been portrayed as a huge professional event – business cards, discussions on complex or boring topics, all that. But networking isn't always like that. For the most part, it's about meeting new people and letting them know what you do (as they tell you what they do too.) That's how meaningful connections are made. And what better way for a shy college student without professional contacts to start than through local groups of activities they're interested in? Be it a local charity, sports team or a book club, try it out.
2. Make networking part of your daily college life
Rather than prepare and fret over one day of networking every three months and then embarrass yourself when the moment comes, you should make networking part of your daily college life so that it doesn't feel like a task. You can start by: Identifying all upcoming potential networking events well ahead of time. Preparing smartly, especially for conversation by learning conversation starters, popular topics and knowing when to speak about yourself. Researching the attendees to discover the people you'll need to speak to most in advance. Researching people you admire and knowing all you can about them. After this, you'll find yourself prepared for even the most random networking situations.
3. Get a well-connected mentor(s)
One of the most popular college tips at any college is that students should try to find mentors to guide them along in their fields of choice. For shy students, this is a ripe networking opportunity to take advantage of. A good mentor does more than just guide; they will introduce you to professional contacts, prepare you for professional interactions.
4. Break down brick by brick
For many shy students, the reason networking in college seems like an uphill task is because they believe they have to talk to groups of people at once, which is intimidating. But it doesn't have to be. If you're the shy type, consider meeting individuals first when they are alone and starting conversations. Then when you're forced to join a group discussion, you'll have met them all already, and it will feel easier. Or you can even leave before group talks begin, assuming your one-on-one conversations left lasting impacts.
5. Network with everyone
There's one secret to networking in college that should almost be a rule; everyone is valuable in networking. For shy individuals who can't always strike a conversation with the next CEO they meet at a party, this rule is gold. Network with everyone you know at your college, starting with your fellow students, your professors, your roommates and more. In today's interconnected world, you never know who of them might refer you to your next job. Networking with people you've seen for a while should also be way easier.
6. Build social connections too
It's a known secret that shy or introvert people usually fare better in online situations, This, coupled with the proliferation of social media in our day to day lives, is actually good news for shy people looking to network like pros. Sites like LinkedIn make online networking easier, but you can also use other platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to discover, meet and share new meaningful contacts. Social platforms are also wonderful avenues for accessing real-time information on physical networking events, should you want to attend one.
7. Maintain and nurture every connection you make
Much like with intimate relationships, you need more than just the first date to cement things in networking. It's no use reaching out to people once and never again; that wouldn't be networking. The idea of networking is for you to create and be part of a group of people interested in the same things as you, which you can leverage later, such as when looking for a job. But if you aren't reaching out to your new connections, know that they are fading away faster than you got them. You can start by sending the occasional email, and making sure it's captivating enough for a busy person to read. A once-in-a-while phone call is another idea, as is the occasional meeting. Anything to make sure they don't forget you is a good idea.
Professional networking has been around since well before the 20th century, and it will continue taking place as the business environment continues to evolve. There's no easy way to avoid it completely, shy or not, so it's better to take some shortcuts to the top. We hope the tips below can be a good starting point for your future formidable networking presence.
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