How to Network as a Student
Breaking barriers in business can be especially difficult for students, since you probably haven’t been working in your business yet. However, a great skill to starting building as a student that can help you break into business is networking. I feel like my teachers and internship directors would always kind of mention how important networking is when you’re just starting out but I don’t remember anyone ever really talking about how to actually do it. Much less trying to just figure it out on my own as an awkward student who doesn’t really know anyone in the field yet. Once I starting applying for internships I realized what everyone meant by needing to network, because connecting with the directors or preceptors is vital for landing a DI. Then when I started my internships and began looking for my dream job I realized that I was going to have to network my way to the top! So I did a little research, read some books, practiced in real life, and this is what I have learned about how to network as a student:
Say “Yes!” To events, meetings, socials, and clubs. While you’re in school or your DI you need to start building your connections. It may feel awkward to go to these events not knowing anyone, but that feeling will go away after going a couple of times. You never know who you will meet when you join a nutrition club or go to your local AND meeting that could help you get to where you want to be.
Find connections to the people who have the job you want. You have now been given permission to do a little “creeping.” Do you want to work for a food company? Find an RD that has that job and find something in common with them to talk about. Are they an alumn of your program? Are you from the same state? Are you part of the same DPG? Message them on Linked In or send an email telling them that you’re interested in their career and add in the connection that you both have!
How to talk to other people while you’re “networking” Don’t! Just ask questions and listen. This takes a lot of pressure off of you to come up with things to say. Instead approach the person that you want to network with and ask them about their job. Ask them what they like about it and how they got there and if they have any advice for you. People love to talk about themselves and they will like you for listening to them. Isn’t that so simple?!
How to maintain the connection. Okay great so now you’ve made a connection with the person that you want to eventually be an employer or even just a mentor. What now?? You need to keep that connection alive by continuing to contact him or her in some way. Even as simple as sending a funny meme that reminds you of him or her, or asking them another question over email, or even offering an article on something that would help him or her in their life or career. Anything that keeps a little contact between you and that person.