Networking is the most effective tool to gain internships: It’s not What You Know but Who You Know.
It is a career development skill that you must develop. In its simplest form, networking involves having a “career conversation” with someone for the purpose of exploring careers or job searching.
With your professional goals in mind, you should actively build, reinforce and maintain relationships of trust with other people.
Many international students who succeed in getting prized internships and stipends highly recommend networking.
Recent surveys of employers indicate that over 50% of all open positions are filled through networking! So begin to develop your networking skills – you will gain a valuable tool that will serve you throughout your career.
Where do you find people to network with?
All around you! Every conference, meeting, lecture and social event is an opportunity to meet new people, build your reputation and create opportunities for yourself.
You can also use LinkedIn, the online professional networking website, to find professionals in your areas of interest.
Effective networking is quite difficult, so here are some tips to help you get started -
- Understand that the person you are trying to network with is a person, not just a contact that is going to ‘get you something’
- Always feel confident about yourself and your ability to positively contribute
- Create business cards and have them ready at all times (it is okay for your title to be student)
- Make it a habit to attend lectures, speeches and other special events on campus and in your community because you never know who will be there
- Look at the program ahead of time and determine who you may want to speak with after the program
- Ask questions throughout the event
- Target key people you would like to talk to, introduce yourself and describe what you do
- If you are unable to identify someone on your target list, look for an individual you already know who is conversing with someone you do NOT know
- Exchange business cards and follow up with an e- mail or a phone call
- Do not beat yourself up if things do not turn out the way you planned them with regard to networking. They often do not. The best relationships may emerge when you least expect them to.