The immediate post-college years can be a difficult time period for graduates. College serves as a safety net for many young adults, and once those days are gone, the training wheels come off.
Welcome to the real world.
The majority of new professionals struggle because they do not have concrete game plans for their lives after school.
So, how do you give yourself the best chance to succeed? The name of the game is networking. The sooner you embrace networking as a way of life, the better.
Networking is a game of strategy, and there are certain methods that reign supreme for recent college graduates in today’s fast-paced, professional world.
Here are four strategies college graduates can use to solidify their networks:
1. Hammer your alumni network.
In a way, when it comes to professional opportunities, your alumni network is your extended family. There is an unwritten rule or understanding graduates from the same alma mater seem to abide by.
Recent college graduates must realize alums (especially older ones) love to help. Once upon a time, they were young professionals fresh out of school, looking to establish themselves.
They have experience. They know what it feels like to be the new guy or girl at a company. They understand what it feels like to know very few people in a brand new city.
Now, they are established, and they welcome any opportunity to help out someone who recently graduated from the same college or university. It doesn't matter what the task is.
Maybe you're still trying to find a job. Maybe you're interested in learning more about a particular field.
Maybe you want to expand your network. Or maybe, you simply want to talk to someone and get advice.
It doesn't matter.
In most instances, if you reach out to an alum in your city, he or she will do anything to help, regardless of your situation. Just send him or her an email with a résumé attached.
As a recent college graduate, it's your job to do everything you can to get in touch with the alums in your city. A good place to start is your alma mater’s career center.
Many colleges and universities have a database containing the contact information of previous students, and it's usually organized by city. Just contact the career center, and a representative will give you the log-in information.
2. Forget Facebook; your new platform is LinkedIn.
Facebook was great in college, but you’re not in college anymore.
You have a job and real-world responsibilities. You don’t have as much free time to “chill” like you used to.
You need to be making good use of your downtime, and a great way to do that is by habitually going on your LinkedIn profile.
You should be tinkering with it constantly; it's always a work in progress.
More importantly, you should get in the habit of researching. Research new contacts to connect with, new job opportunities you might be interested in and groups in your city.
LinkedIn is an amazing resource. If you spend enough time on it, you'll realize it's the perfect tool to further your professional goals.
3. Go to group meet-ups.
Physically attending group meetups is a surefire way to expand and solidify your network. Nothing will ever replace putting yourself out there and hoping for the best.
You can hammer your alumni network and do research on LinkedIn all you want, but if you don't physically put yourself out there, you're seriously hindering your potential to build a solid network.
LinkedIn and Meetup are the best places to find solid groups of like-minded people to connect with.
If you're shy or consider yourself to be introverted, don’t worry. These group meet-up events are very low-pressure environments.
They usually take place after work, when everyone just wants to unwind. As a bonus, food and drinks are usually available.
4. Explore your city. You never know whom you might run into.
When you're first introduced to the job market as a recent college graduate, it can be easy to let life pass you by. You're focused, and you want to succeed.
However, it's imperative you don’t forget about your surroundings and current living situation.
Every once in a while, you need to unwind and take some time to explore your city. Research your city’s hot spots and main attractions.
Take some time to explore these areas and mingle with the crowd. You never know whom you might run into.