The moment you step foot on your college campus is the moment you begin building your network. The people you meet at freshman orientation, in freshman lectures, at a party, in the student center, or essentially anywhere could play the most instrumental roles in your post-graduate career. There are a few easy steps to take to cultivate the connections you make your freshman year of college that can last a lifetime. These connections can turn into connections to your future, including co-workers, bosses and, of course, friends!
1. Be Gregarious. Be Social. Talk to anyone and everyone, there is no need to be picky or exclusive. "Everyone has a network. Your friends, family friends, classmates, employers, graduate teaching assistants, hairdresser, dean, librarian, professors, and, yes, neighbors, are all in your network and can help you expand your contacts. No one starts from scratch and you never know where any connection may lead." -- Lindsey Pollak, author of Getting from College to Career. Don’t be too selective in networking; keep your net wide. The average college student changes their major approximately two times; therefore, a lot can change over the course of four years. Dreams and goals could align by senior year.
2. Be Interested. Building meaningful relationships means taking time to truly get to know people. Ask questions, not just about their goals and career plans, but also about their family and hobbies. Then open up. Cultivating a meaningful network is about building genuine relationships and friendships.
3. Be Adventurous. Step out of your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with a random stranger. Join a variety of social clubs and organizations, including Greek life. Sororities and fraternities are tight-knit groups; they will often lend a hand to their members.
4. Be Intentional. Set networking goals for yourself each semester. Whether it is joining a new club or meeting a certain number of people, always challenge yourself.