Building good relationships with people you meet while studying overseas can actually be a huge advantage when it comes time for job hunting. You may have heard the saying, “it’s not what you know, but who you know.” Having a great network of friends and acquaintances can help you put your best foot forward.
Here are a few tips for successful networking:
Start with your own network
The people you already know in school can be a tool for expanding your connections. Start creating meaningful relationships with your classmates, teachers, club mates, and peers. If you find yourself struggling to meet different people, a simple act of introducing yourself to the person sitting next to you in class can help improve your confidence. This might require you to step out of your comfort zone, so take it slowly to begin with. You can also try moving around during the semester and taking different seats in the classroom.
Build good relationships with your professors
Your professors, teachers and tutors are very likely to have great industry connections. With years of experience under their belt, they know the ins and outs of a particular area that could be of interest to you. They can also provide access to networking events, first-hand information about internship opportunities, or career updates in the line of work you want to pursue. Your lecturers are a great source of advice and guidance, so make sure you take advantage of their assistance.
Participate in networking events
Networking events, seminars and workshops are excellent opportunities to widen your connections, so keep an eye out for any invitations and announcements from your institution’s student career centre. First encounters are normally awkward and embarrassing but with continuous participation, speaking with strangers will, in time, become easy and natural.
Professional functions are also great places to find influential people who you can interact with. Industry conferences sometimes have discounted student rates, that will generally still give you access to social and networking functions. Remember, it is not every day you get the opportunity to connect with experts and leaders in your field of study.
Take advantage of social media
The easiest way to start networking is through social media. Networking sites like LinkedIn and Twitter are great platforms to connect with professionals in a more casual way. So be proactive and take the initiative to engage with organisations and industry leaders in your chosen field, as they are likely to share trends and updates that might be useful to the path you wish to take. Be on the lookout as well for any networking functions, job openings and career events on your newsfeed.