Careers fairs, presentations, company meet and greets - as a student there are plenty of opportunities to meet potential employers or colleagues, and a huge amount of information available about moving into the world of work.
However, turning up and shaking hands is the easy part; it's much tougher to stay in touch and build a relationship. At first, I imagined that I'd send an email, meet a contact for a coffee and the next thing I knew have an internship or job offer ready and waiting. After months of my emails being buried in overflowing inboxes, I decided to set up a LinkedIn profile and it's changed the way I network.
Here are some of the tips and tricks I've learnt along the way:
1. Don't underestimate how much your profile says about you. Your picture is the first thing someone sees, so if it's you on the beach or enjoying a cocktail, change it. It doesn't have to be taken by a professional, but you need to look like a professional in it
2. Talk about yourself in easy-to-understand terms. I've found a simple headline such as "intern at ____" or "student at ___" beats a lengthy description. Highlight any successes and achievements and add any positions you've held in university societies to show proactivity and commitment
3. It's quality, not quantity. The number of connections you have is nowhere near as important as whether you engage with them. Sharing an interesting article or congratulating someone on a new job is a good way to get on their radar
4. Build your network from the ground up. I started by connecting with people I knew and added people that LinkedIn suggested. You'll be surprised at how your network grows organically
5. Don't be afraid to make the first move. Most people I've reached out to on LinkedIn for advice have responded - sure, occasionally it's been a "no," but it's always been useful
6. Explore the platform. There are numerous groups for graduate and internship recruitment that can pave the way to a new connection or give you a heads up about potential opportunities
7. Take things offline. I've been pleasantly surprised at how many of the people I've approached on LinkedIn are happy to meet for coffee - and how a friendly chat in Costa can translate into a recommendation for a job or an introduction to someone who can help