Build Your Professional Network

Building a professional network is critical to every profession, whether in business or in other careers. It is important to build these connections early as it will help you grow and increase your chance of success. Here are some places where you can start building your professional network:

Career Fairs – Get yourself out there and meet with recruiters by attending career fairs either on or off campus. Research the companies attending before the fair and make a list of companies in which you are interested. Prepare copies of your resume ahead of time, greet people with firm handshake, and start introducing yourself with an elevator pitch. It might be intimidating the first time you talk to recruiters and professionals, but you will be surprised how quickly you become good at it. Don’t forget to follow up with recruiters and professionals by sending them questions or thank you notes to develop deeper relationships with them.

LinkedIn – Do not have a profile yet? Go ahead and create one now, it’s easy! The average number of connections you would want to have is around 300 – 500 people, so connect with others as many as you can. Some people you may want to connect with are your fellow students, professors, colleagues, supervisors, and peers. You can also find people who are currently working at the position/company you want to be in. Take the initiative to connect with them and send them short messages to arrange a 10-minute conversation to ask them about their experience. Furthermore, follow LinkedIn groups/associations that you want to learn more about. This would also show others what you are interested in.

Professional Associations & Professional Conferences – Search online or ask your professors to see if there are any professional associations or conferences that would fit well with your career aspirations. By joining these, you would be able to learn from the members, discuss the latest trends in the industry, and get advice about your own career path. They would be able to provide their real-world experiences and insights as well.

After you have constructed your professional network, don’t forget to maintain it regularly. Schedule a dinner for reconnection, update them on your progress, and share useful information or provide help when necessary. Time and effort are definitely required for this process: Take action and you will be an expert in building professional relationships in no time!