Business as we know it has become highly centralized around your personal network. Who you know and your various relationships with those people is now a large part of being able to secure a job after graduation – or a promotion later on.
With this trend becoming more and more prevalent, college graduates are looking for new ways to grow their network and cultivate valuable relationships, especially in light of the disruptions caused by the global pandemic.
The question remains: how can recent college graduates grow their network in a time like this, and how can they utilize their network in order to benefit themselves? The following are nine ways recent or upcoming college graduates can utilize their network to launch their career.
1. Who You Know
The most essential component of networking is connecting with the right people for what you plan to do for a career in life. If you want to go into investment banking, it is a good idea for you to connect with alumni from your school who work at prominent investment banks and have experience in the field.
One way to find the right people is to go through your school’s respective alumni network in conjunction with LinkedIn. Send a brief message stating that you are a student or recent grad from X university and are reaching out to alumni in the field to learn more about the companies and positions in the industry in which you are interested.
Your goal for the initial outreach is to establish a shared connection (ie. that you both graduated from the same university) and ask for a ‘coffee chat’ or informational interview. A 15-30 minute phone call or in person meeting to ask about their job, show your interest and make your first point of contact.
2. Building Relationships
Once you make an initial connection, be sure to save their contact information and follow up with them after your conversation. This will ensure that the interaction is a memorable one for both sides, and assists with future interactions with that person.
A great tool to use to help you with this part of the process is a personal contact relationship management application or CRM. It will help you organize and store your contacts and certain apps will even remind you to follow up with important connections after a certain period of time has passed. You can even create an electronic business card and exchange these with the new connections you make.
3. Growing Your Network
Although each connection you make is important in and of itself, it is essential that you make as many of these connections as possible. This will help you establish yourself within the field that you may wish to go into in your career, and can provide you with a variety of opportunities to break into that industry. It will also teach you more about others’ experiences, which can serve as insight that you can apply to your own path.
4. Establishing A Reputation
After you have grown your network to a size that will help you break into your industry of choice, it is important that you stay on top of your various relationships in order to establish yourself as someone who would be a good addition to the business or firm that you are interested in joining.
A CRM app can help you with this by setting up daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly alerts to reach out or follow up with your connections. This is a surefire way to build yourself a reputation that demonstrates to potential employers your ability to thrive in a business environment.
Plus, all of these tactics you are using to get a job will also help you find success once you are in the position. You want to build relationships with colleagues, potential clients, and existing customers.
5. Applying for Positions
Once you have grown your network to a reasonable level filled with people who will serve as useful connections in your future line of business, you are ready to start using your network to apply for positions at companies you identify as good candidates to build a career.
A great way to do this is to apply to these companies, then contact the connections that you’ve made at that company. Thank them for meeting with you and inform them of your interest in the position and application submission. This is in a hope to get a good referral or endorsement from them to the hiring department and get your application moved towards the top of the pile.
6. Following Up
After applying to the positions that you wish to fill, it is extremely important that you follow up with the people that you spoke to at the company in order to ensure that your application is reviewed and valued.
Set up a reminder system in your CRM app or calendar as an automated way to help yourself remember to complete these follow-ups, bolstering your chances of getting an interview from your desired company.
7. Staying In Contact
Some companies have relatively longer hiring processes. During these drawn-out processes, you want to stay in touch with your connections at the company. Again, your CRM app like Covve can help you with its intelligent scheduling system. AI-powered features assist you in keeping track of the right time to reach out and provide context for your follow-up messages.
This is yet another way that recent college graduates can utilize their existing network to ensure that they have the highest chances possible of successfully securing a job after graduation. Even if you don’t get the initial role, you want to keep these connections warm. You never know when another opportunity will arise.
8. Keep Utilizing Your Network Even After You Receive Your Desired Role
Many recent college graduates fail to realize that your network does not stop growing and evolving when you get the job that you want. Even after you are placed in the position you have always dreamed of working in, it is important to keep using your network.
Now, rather than trying to acquire a job, you will want to utilize your network to generate new business for you and your company in your new role. Those same connections that you spoke to about applying for jobs can transform into business opportunities if you stay in touch with the right people.
9. Continued Growth
You never want to stop growing your network. Stay on top of your network of new business associates and continue to establish yourself as someone that people want to work with. Technology may be ever present in our work and home lives, but human connections still drive the most powerful impact.
Knowing the right ways to utilize your network as a recent college graduate is essential in securing that job you have always dreamed of having. Furthermore, networking continues to cultivate valuable business relationships that will ultimately generate revenue for your company and add value to your employment there.
Using a personal contact relationship management system, like Covve, is a great way to make certain that you are always on top of your game when it comes to managing your relationships. Through the use of tools like this, recent college graduates are able to ensure that they get the most out of their network, and utilize it in the most effective ways.