6 Easy Ways to Build Your Career Network

By Staff Writer Published on October 12, 2015

Being in school is the perfect time to start making connections that will help you later when you’re looking to find or switch jobs.

One of the best ways to make those connections is to simply to talk to your peers and professors whenever you have a chance.

Here are six questions to help you get conversations started.

1. What kind of job do you want to get after graduating?

Take advantage of online forums. Email, message boards, chat rooms, and social media channels are great ways to connect. Talk with your fellow students about their career goals and what they want to get out of the program. Try to have these chats outside of structured study time so you don’t come off as not caring about the work.

2. What’s your favorite hobby?

Ask your fellow students about their lives and interests outside of school. Hobbies may or may not relate to what you’re studying, but showing interest in them helps you form friendships that may be helpful later. Ongoing research supports the idea that a mix of casual and closer personal connections are most effective for job seekers.

3. Do you get news from Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter?

First, make yourself a LinkedIn profile if you haven’t yet. Talking to your classmates about what they use social media for and what they read opens the door to connect with them on those sites. Though chatting on Twitter or Facebook might seem unrelated to school, it’s not. They can be great places to share industry news and talk about what you’re learning.

4. What do you like about your program?

Remember to network with people outside your field of study, too. Though they may not end up working in the same industry, they might hear about work in your industry. Also, with so many people changing careers these days, you might just end up sharing a field with someone who studied something very different in school.

5. What is your favorite thing about your career?

While you’re still in school, ask for informational interviews with people who have jobs you want to get someday or work in the industry for which you’re training. An informational interview is a good way to learn more about what your dream job might be like in real life as well as build a career network that will be useful when you start looking for jobs.

6. How did you find a job right after graduating?

Don’t be afraid to ask your instructors questions not just about your coursework, but about their career paths. Did they go right to teaching? Did they have other positions between finishing school and their current one? When instructors ask for it, give them feedback on the class and do the extra credit work. You may be asking teachers for recommendations after you finish the class, so anything you can do to make yourself memorable will benefit you.

Networking may sound intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Remember that it’s really just about talking to people.