You may have plenty of Instagram, Snapchat or Twitter friends -- but are you connected with professionals within your career field of interest? Networking and developing relationships with professionals are some the most effective ways to learn how to navigate your career path. Who knows --- someone in your professional network may provide an opportunity for you to take your first or next career step!
Below are a few tips on how to go beyond your social network and make professional connections!
Tip 1: Ask everyone for advice, ideas, leads and referrals
You may gain a lot of insight just by listening to the fascinating and inspiring career stories from professionals in your field. Many professionals (new and seasoned) are happy to talk about their career pathways with aspiring professionals just like you! Politely asking them if they could share a little time with you in person (preferably); or via email –could open up the opportunity for you to discover key facts and details about someone who is “actually doing” the things you are considering doing in the future. Furthermore, they also might help you find “insider” opportunities for internships, part-time jobs or high-profile volunteering assignments.
Tip 2: Create a professional email and/or professional networking profile
LinkedIn is a social network created primarily for building professional connections. Your profile serves as an interactive resume, where you can list your professional experience and educational credentials. You can join professional groups and search and apply for jobs. There are more than 58,100 UMBC alumni currently on LinkedIn!
Tip 3: Start Connecting at UMBC!
The Career Center hosts networking events and job fairs on a regular basis. Participate in informational interviews, Networking 101, LinkedIn 101 or join the UMBC-Alumni Student Networking Group on LinkedIn!
Now is the time to focus on your “Future Selfie”! In addition to building your personal brand, you can attend events/presentations, grab badges along the way, get connected to the rest of the world and explore professional options!
There are many career networking and professional mentorship opportunities which are available through the range of services, programs and initiatives sponsored by the Shriver Center – especially with respect to civic engagement and community based service delivery.
Follow up, follow up, and follow up (you get the point) – with your professional contacts! Whether it’s sending them an email every few months, or a message through Linked In, or placing a call to check in – it’s important to maintain all of the connections you make. They’ll be sure to come in handy when you are ready to make your next step!