Networking doesn’t have to be a terrifying and awkward in person interaction. One of the simplest, most effective networking techniques that I’ve seen college students implement has—believe it or not—taken place online. Approaching nearly 500 million users, LinkedIn is, in my opinion, one of the most powerful tools for young people to learn, connect, engage, and explore all sorts of possibilities for their futures.
One of my mentees used LinkedIn to secure an incredible summer internship that aided in his acceptance to Stanford Medical School. Another secured an offer from Nike, Inc. simply by following some straightforward networking steps in college. Let me share just one technique you can use to begin building your own network as a college freshman.
Same Hometown + Same college = Networking Gold
There are alumni of your college who have walked the same campus you are preparing to walk, taken the same classes you are preparing to take, and even survived through several of the obstacles and challenges that will soon come your way. Even better, there are some who share these experiences and are from your hometown (or currently work there). One step better: would you believe there are alumni who have 1) attended and graduated from your beloved college, 2) live in your hometown, and 3) work in an industry that you find particular interest in?
Conversations and insight from these individuals can become “networking gold” and provide value to your college journey. Here’s what you do on LinkedIn to get the most out of the networking process:
- In the search bar, type in your college.
- When you find your college, select the blue “See Alumni” button located to the right.
- In the new search box, search your hometown or a particular industry (i.e. finance, education, etc.).
After you complete these 3 steps, LinkedIn will provide you with a handful of LinkedIn-active alumni to whom you can reach out and potentially establish a relationship with over the course of your college career.
You don’t have to contact these alumni all at once. Just by curating this list, you’re learning and practicing the very basics of the power of networking. Cool, right? Why not ask people who you share so much in common with about the opportunities that lie ahead in college, the internships you should apply for, the classes you should or should not take?
There are several great tools on LinkedIn. This is just one! Take advantage & happy networking.