Networking strategies extend far beyond simply being in the right place at the right time. They even extend beyond attending the right conferences, joining the right extracurriculars, and connecting with the right individuals at your college. With technology, you can network successfully nearly every day - which can significantly improve your chances of securing employment. Here are several strategies to help you incorporate technology into your networking routine:
Create a professional website
You can create an attractive website fairly easily with online tools like Weebly and Wix - but in order to build a website that draws the correct kind of attention, you will need to do more than simply post your resume on it. Keep your website constantly updated with relevant work samples from your classes, extracurricular activities, and internships, and include any accolades you earn.
You can also create a blog as part of your website and regularly post relevant articles about trends in your industry, reviews of industry literature, etc. You can use these blog entries to keep your website fresh, email them to potential employers, and link to them on social platforms to increase your exposure.
Fully utilize LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a powerful online networking tool. It can be wise to connect with relevant professionals in your area (when appropriate), as well as with relevant university connections. (Professors in your major, for instance, can verify the skills listed on your profile.) Maintain an updated profile with recent school and work activity, and make sure you prominently highlight academic and extracurricular achievements.
If you implement smart usage strategies, you can also broaden your reach substantially. For example, consider how employers search on LinkedIn. Most will browse by position title and city. If you hope to work in a specific area (perhaps New York City), it is important that you identify and reach out to companies in this city. Be proactive, but do not deceive employers as to your current location. Begin your search by identifying local alumni of your alma mater, especially those who work for an organization or in a field that interests you. Think back on your college extracurriculars - like interests can often lead to employment in similar fields.
You might also wish to join professional groups on LinkedIn. Once you join them, contribute to the conversation to become more visible. Pay attention to the etiquette of each group to continuously add value without spamming. For example, some groups do not appreciate people who blatantly ask for job opportunities. Instead, they try to foster insightful discussions. If this is true of your groups, build a public reputation within them and then privately message the appropriate members about job opportunities. Note that recruiters are an excellent option, as they often have time for qualified candidates.
Certain individuals on social platforms do not respond well to unsolicited interaction. However, others welcome it. Chances are, you will be safe if you reach out to recruiters.
When sending requests to connect, personalize your message with a comment about where you met (i.e. "I participated in student government with you during your senior year") or why you find your potential contact's profile and experience interesting. You might also mention that you share common interests. When sending direct messages, do not immediately inquire about employment opportunities. Instead, ask for advice about industry blogs or books to review, or request an informational interview over a cup of coffee or via a brief phone call. However, it is important to add that you are open to exploring new opportunities.
Be respectful, honest, and confident in your networking endeavors, and your efforts will likely serve you well.