Today we have another awesome guest blog post for you! While our founder, Dani, is not an entrepreneur, we thought some folks in the audience may consider becoming an entrepreneur in the future and would benefit from this post. Please enjoy the following guest blog post by Michael Stephenson.
Note: Opinions expressed by STEM Changemaker contributors are their own.
Love it or hate it, networking is a must when you’re early on in your entrepreneurial journey. Whether you’re in high school or college, have recently earned your degree, or you’re in the process of launching a business, networking is essential for your short- and- long-term career goals.
Here are ways to network in 3 different stages you may find yourself in:
1. Networking in College
Networking may be the least of your concerns when you are busy juggling classes and coursework with all things college life, family, and friends, but it’s something you should prioritize early on in your career — especially if you’re interested in pursuing entrepreneurship. Networking in college gives you the chance to connect with and learn from other aspiring entrepreneurs and professionals in your desired field, helping you to obtain referrals, gain career insight, and build a strong professional network.
A few ways to network in college include:
● Utilizing the available resources of your school’s career services office.
● Joining various organizations for young STEM professionals.
● Conversing with your professors outside of classes.
● Applying for internships: How to Find Internships for College Students in 2020 (goskills.com)
● Reaching out to other college faculty.
● Joining and participating in relevant LinkedIn groups: Here are the top 15 Linkedin Groups for College Students to Join for Jobs, Careers and Internship Programs
● Attending job fairs and conferences in your desired field.
Also check out the following article to learn more about networking while in college: The Importance of Networking in College (careergeekblog.com)
If you’re shy or introverted, networking in college can seem much more daunting. Katharine Brooks, Ed.D. of Psychology Today offers some tips for networking as an introvert at Networking 101 for Introverts | Psychology Today.
2. Networking After Graduation
After graduating from college, many of the same networking opportunities will be available to you. Your college’s career services office, for instance, may host networking events, conferences, and job fairs for recent alumni — or the school may have LinkedIn and Facebook groups for alumni to join. You could also volunteer for your school’s alumni association or career services office.
Moreover, LinkedIn is an excellent networking tool for college graduates and aspiring entrepreneurs. You can use LinkedIn to connect with former college professors, your university’s alumni association, and other respected professionals within your desired field. Once you’ve built a professional network, be sure to maintain those relationships without going overboard. To learn more about this, please visit 7 Ways To Maintain Your Professional Network Without Annoying Your Con (fastcompany.com).
3. Networking for Business
Once you’ve officially launched your entrepreneurial career, networking can help your small business to improve and grow over time. As an entrepreneur, networking allows you to make professional connections, generate referrals and leads, stay up to date with industry trends, and even find new clients for your small business: 11 Tips for Successful Business Networking | ZenBusiness Inc.
A few ways to network as a business owner include the following:
● Joining your local Chamber of Commerce
● Attending local business events in your city
● Joining LinkedIn groups for entrepreneurs like listed here: Best LinkedIn Groups for Entrepreneurs – businessnewsdaily.com
● Connecting with your local SCORE chapter.
● Joining groups such as the Entrepreneurs’ Organization and Business Networking International (BNI).
Even if you’re up for attending in-person conferences and events, lots of online networking opportunities are also available. Check out websites like StartUp Nation, TheFunded, Zerply, MyOpportunity, and Bumble Bizz to connect with other entrepreneurs online.
The Bottom Line
Networking is important regardless of where you are in your entrepreneurial journey, but starting early on in your career is always best. The more relationships you’ve built while you’re still in college, the more information you’ll gain about your desired field — and the greater number of opportunities you’ll have when it comes to landing internships, finding mentors, and starting a successful business.
While networking can feel intimidating to many young professionals, the good news is you don’t need to be an extrovert who loves socializing in order to network effectively. Thanks to the internet, you can network online or in-person — and start building your professional network as early as high school or college. The professionals you meet can help you to get where you want to go and kickstart your entrepreneurial dreams!
About the Author:
Michael Stephenson created The Entrepreneur Hub at https://theentrepreneurhub.com/ to inspire, assist, and motivate his fellow entrepreneurs. He updates the site with helpful resources and advice fit for all entrepreneurs, regardless of where they are in their startup journey.