More young people today are realizing earlier and earlier the value of building and maintaining effective social and professional networks as they go through high school, college, and especially after college. The basic essentials of effective networking actually begin in middle school when we as parents begin to strategically guide our offspring to the “right” clubs, social organizations, and even churches in an effort to not only help them develop lifelong friendships, but to also foster relations that become potential professional network contacts as they grow into adulthood with full-fledged careers.
We know that there are many advantages to establishing a professional network early in one’s career. According to one successful United States tutoring and mentoring firm, high school students learn quickly that networking in college is serious business. “Networking in college and in one’s personal life can build lasting relationships that will help a student gain an edge when they are preparing to graduate and enter the world of world.” (Read more at Think Tank Learning )
For this posting, I went to one of my trusted and reliable sources on the topic Quint Careers www.quintcareers.com and found the following tips and advice on networking for young people who plan to be future executives tomorrow.
UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF NETWORKING!
It’s helpful to examine how people get their jobs. The U.S. Department of Labor says that only about 5 percent of people obtain jobs through the “open” job market — consisting primarily of help-wanted ads on the Internet and in print publications. Another 24 percent obtain jobs through contacting companies directly — the cold-contact method of job-hunting. Twenty-three percent obtain jobs through such means as employment agencies, college career-services offices and executive-search firms. The remaining 48 percent — nearly half of all job hunters, obtain their jobs through referrals — that is word of mouth. How do they get referrals and find out about jobs through word of mouth? By networking…
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF ADVANCES IN COMMUNICATIONS AND TECHNOLOGY!
Reach out to liked minded professionals in your community and worldwide by using social media platforms and up and coming web based technologies. Remember that your professional brand can be negatively impacted by improper postings on popular platforms like Instagram, FB or Twitter. Do research to find social media sites that market to a niche professional market. For example if you are a museum industry executive wanting to expand your professional reach, you’d want to join a social media site specific to people who work in the museum industry.
MEET THE GUEST SPEAKER!
One of the best sources of networking contacts for students is the guest speakers that come to talk to your classes. These professionals are a vast untapped resource. Don’t be afraid to go up to a guest speaker after his or her presentation to introduce yourself, express interest in their product or service as well as your extreme appreciation for them taking the time to speak with you directly. Have a business card ready to give them and ask if you could contact them at some time in the future to conduct an information interview. Don’t forget to get their card too!
JOIN DISCUSSION GROUPS AND NEWSGROUPS!
Active job-hunters often join discussion groups or read a newsgroup on a topic of their choice. Sites like at http://groups.google.com or Topica provide a list of numerous newsgroups or discussion lists that the job-seeker can join. Establishing an ‘Internet Presence’ by posting on a discussion list (after learning the rules of ‘Netiquette’ one should follow for posting a message or reply) facilitates others getting to know you and your area of interest/expertise.”
BECOME ACTIVE IN YOUR COMMUNITY!
Become active in your community. Participate in school clubs that are related to your career interests and develop lasting relationships with your classmates and teacher club leaders. Take leadership roles in the activities of clubs you join and use the opportunity to network with members of the community who may one day become will valuable resources for potential internship and job leads for you tomorrow.
DON’T REINVENT THE WHEEL, FIND A MENTOR!
Choose a mentor early in your career planning process to help guide you in decision making. In addition to your parents and teachers, having a career planning mentor can definitely give your networking skills a boost and help you practice with a trusted adult.
Most mentors state that it’s very rewarding to help someone, remembering what it was like when they were trying to decide on a career. Having a mentor can be the first step toward deciding on pursuing a given career. Many students begin with making networking contacts that grow into working part or full-time for their mentor or their mentor’s contacts. As students gain work experience they qualify for many internships and business opportunities. A college career center is only one way of seeing about getting a mentor. Usually colleges have an Alumni Network for this purpose. Also explore mentors in places of worship, social and civil clubs that your parents belong to or community business leaders.