Networking Tips for Recent College Grads
If someone you know just graduated from college, let me add my congratulations! More than likely, their attention is now fully on getting that first job, so here are a few networking ideas to help their chances.
Everyone will tell the grad that they need to ‘network’, but what does that mean? First, have them look at their social networks. Clean up the Facebook pictures; it is fair game for an employer to look at those, and there shouldn’t be anything on there that might suggest a lack of good judgement. Alternately, they could change their privacy settings. A Linkedin account is an absolute must. They should spend as much time on this account as they do on their resume. Include a professional picture, appropriate for the position that is being sought. Join some groups on Linkedin and pay attention to what is going on in those groups.
Have them consider joining an organization in the space where they would like to work. For plastics that could be The Plastics Industry, or the Society of Plastics Engineers for example. In the packaging space, perhaps the Institute of Packaging Professionals. Many organizations have special categories for students or young professionals, and local chapters for an easy and inexpensive way to meet people.
Encourage them to attend career fairs and networking events. Use some imagination to search for these; there will be more opportunities than they might think. There are for-profit companies who regularly host career fairs. The employers pay to have a table, but it is free for prospective candidates. Large companies may prefer to pass on those events and host their own. Universities, chambers of commerce, and networking sites like meetup.com are just a few other places to look.
Depending on the event, it could be appropriate to have a full resume handy, such as at a career fair. At other events that might be too much, because there isn’t that same expectation of employer/candidate. For these occasions it’s a good idea to have some business cards printed up. These are a quite inexpensive way to pass your contact information. Include your email, phone number, and Linkedin profile at a minimum. Also, they should get a new professional email if they are still using the .edu email they probably had in school.