How to Network in High School and College

Networking isn’t just for business professionals. Learning how to network while in college and high school can help you practice your communication and relationship skills well before you enter the workforce. Networking involves collecting contacts for a professional exchange and can enhance your overall career development.

Learning how to network as a student may feel uncomfortable at first, but it’s never too early to start building connections! The sooner you start networking, the more contacts you have for potential opportunities. High school and college can present plenty of opportunities to network, potentially furthering your career before you’ve even earned your Bachelor’s degree.

Let’s take a look at some examples of how to network as a college student or while you’re still in high school.

You should network in high school and college

Flickr user Chris Potter

1. Network with Adults You Already Know

While you’re still in high school, start with the adults you know. This will often be the friends of your parents, and also your friends’ parents. They can make for great resources, especially if they’re in a field you’re hoping to enter. You may have a variety of contacts without looking too far, so don’t overlook them just because you have a more personal relationship with them.

Another plus of networking with these adults is that they have connections of their own. Even if they aren’t in a field you’re particularly interested in, they might know someone who is and can put you in touch with an important person.

Once you’re ready to graduate college and start looking for a career, you’ll have a good base of connections just from this pool. Ask your parents, their friends, and your friends’ parents if they know of anyone who could help you out or guide you. People are usually willing to help, so you have everything to gain just by asking for a boost!

2. Network By Joining Clubs and Organizations

Both high schools and colleges offer plenty of clubs and organizations for you to participate in. Clubs or organizations relevant to your intended major are great choices, but you should also consider other options. Exploring new areas that could help further your career, whether by applying real-life skills or creating a well-rounded experience base for you to pull from as you enter your professional persona. This could include clubs that focus on leadership or volunteer work, for example.

Joining a club is also an opportunity to network with your fellow students. They may have family or friends who would be great contacts for you to add to your list. You could also network with teachers or professors who may have a hand in the organization or the professionals you’ll meet through events.

Remember to remain open and be willing to listen, ask questions, and follow up. You never know how these connections could provide opportunities throughout your life!

3. Network Through Internships

Internships are a huge stepping stone in many career paths, but also a huge boost for your networking skills. You’ll meet potential future employers and coworkers while also possibly being hired after graduation. The real-life experience an internship can provide is unmatched during your college years, and demonstrating your work ethic can go a long way in securing a role post-college.

Internships not only help you build your resume, but they can also allow you to experience your field before you officially enter it. So connections formed in internships can be valuable even if you decide not to stay in that field.

4. Network Through Social Media

You can learn how to network on social media while in college, so don’t delay joining LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a professional social media platform, and people on this platform are often looking to hire or introduce you to someone who is. It’s not too early to make a profile, and it can easily keep your connections together for you in one place.

You’ll have those contacts readily available and can deepen your relationship with connections by engaging with their content. LinkedIn for students is easy to navigate and getting on there as soon as possible can make it your personal networking haven when you start looking for a job post-graduation.

LinkedIn is the professional go-to, but don’t forget about other social media platforms when it comes to networking! Instagram is another great resource. If you have a personal account, consider creating a professional one that is separate and use this to build contacts within your targeted field. The explore page can help you find voices you may have not otherwise met, and followers can introduce you to other like people. Interact with them through stories, comments, and follows.

It’s never too early to start networking, even if you’re still in high school. The sooner you begin, the more connections will be there when you graduate. You never know what can happen… the right connection could open the door to your dream job!

If you still aren’t sure what industry you’d like to pursue, search and explore college majors to help you narrow down what best suits you!

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