It's spring semester and you're looking to go somewhere new this summer: N.Y.C. The problem is, you don't know anyone there. You also have to attend school full-time, which makes it hard to travel hours to a different state just to network.
The good news is that you do have access to an out-of-state network thanks to the internet. You just have to know how to utilize the tools at your disposal. Here is a quick guide to get you started.
Photo courtesy of Garrett Heath on Flickr
1. Start with what you have.
You may think you don't know anybody in your dream city, but chances are, you know people who do. A good place to start is with the resources you already have: college career and alumni centers. If your dream city is N.Y.C., either of these centers will likely be able to connect you with some alumni from your industry.
Once you have landed these new contacts and built relationships with them, consider asking them if they can put you in touch with their contacts as well. Just be sure to pay close attention to the nature of your relationship and don't make demands they aren't comfortable with.
Repeat this process as needed, and you will find yourself with more leads in N.Y.C. than you realized you could have.
2. Social media is your friend.
LinkedIn is the modern day equivalent of cold-calling. On LinkedIn, you can technically send a request or message to anyone anywhere, as long as you have their profile.
However, sending out tons of connection requests or messages on LinkedIn can be tiring and yield few results. It's best to focus your search, and always include a custom message when you are sending a request to someone you don't know.
First, make a list of companies you want to work for. Then fire up LinkedIn's Advanced Search tool or LinkedIn Alumni to find people who work there.
There are many criteria you can choose from to narrow down your results of potential contacts. For example, try typing in your school name and your dream company's name to find a list of alumni who are working there.
Note that some options are only available for Premium members, but the most basic options, such as location, current company and past company, should be enough to get your e-networking started!
Another great thing about LinkedIn is that you can see mutual connections between you and your desired contacts, which is another chance for you to ask for an introduction. If you are looking to get in touch with someone at a large company, like Google or Disney, a mutual connection could be the difference that gets you a reply.
Twitter is another great online networking tool because it provides a platform for natural, spontaneous conversations for people who don't necessarily know each other. One great way to find people on Twitter is to join industry chats, which are often identified by specific hashtags.
3. Always follow up.
As with regular networking, follow-up is an important part of online networking. In fact, you may have to follow up more diligently when you are trying to establish connections with people solely online; it's easy to forget to respond to an email or request.
As with regular networking, you may also discover that most people you reach out to will not reply to you. Don't let that discourage you; focus on building relationships with people who do write back to you.
A great way to follow up is to schedule visits to your dream city. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a great face-to-face impression is worth a thousand tweets. In the mean time, for more tried-and-true tips on Twitter networking, check out this blog post by our founder Emily!
What are your thoughts on networking from out-of-state? Let us know in the comment section!
By Dai X. Cao