The term networking usually provokes feelings of dread or anxiety in college students. For most students, the term networking evokes images of talking to people you don’t know. For others, networking is seen as a onetime event that you do when you need a job.

With these common misconceptions about networking, it is no wonder that college students tend to avoid networking all together. The good news is that these are misbeliefs and it isn’t as bad as one might think.

College students should focus on building relationships with people in their own area of study first. Overtime, all professionals expand their networking outside of their current job, but that level of complexity is not required for the entry-level employee.

STEP
1
WHO AND WHERE

The most common and obvious people to start networking with are:

    • Campus recruiters for all of the companies that recruit from UAB
    • Human Resources personnel at companies that do not have campus recruiters
    • Managers within organizations in your area of study or area of interest
    • Employees who are already doing the job you want
NOTE :
    Do not network solely with the companies you want to work for, expand your network to a large variety of organizations in your industry.
STEP
2
YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE
  • Set up a LinkedIn account, look at the accounts of other professionals to ensure that your page makes a dynamic first impression (you can use staff in UAB’s office of Career & Professional Development as examples)
  • Send personalized LinkedIn connection requests. Do not use the standard request message provided by LinkedIn.
  • Modify your Twitter account to be personable and appropriate all in one, then follow campus recruiters at a minimum. Many recruiters will post a job opening on Twitter the minute it opens, days before it might show up on the company website.
STEP
3
FACE-TO-FACE NETWORKING

Online networking is possible and effective, but it doesn’t complete the entire process. Meeting people in person is how you create your reputation and make friends with other professionals. That saying “it’s all in who you know” exists for a reason.

  • Log into your HireABlazer account and plan some on-campus networking in advance. Click on the box that says EVENTS to see what is coming up for the semester.
  • Use local Young Professional (YP) organizations and their events to meet people the industry(s) that are of interest to you. Here are some great local examples:
    • Birmingham Urban League YP
    • Alabama Humanities Foundation
    • Young Nonprofit Professionals Network Birmingham
    • Young Professionals of Birmingham
    • The Rotaract Club of Birmingham
    • Young Pioneers of Birmingham – In support of REV Birmingham
    • Birmingham Public Library Young Professionals
    • Young Education Professionals (YEP) Birmingham
  • Conferences are an ideal place to network. Most UAB students are attending conferences as co-presenters or poster session participants anyway, so use that opportunity to collect business cards, connect with the people you meet at the conference via LinkedIn and Twitter accounts that you prepared in Step One, and ask people about their work. Refer to our section on informational interviewing for some sample questions to ask complete strangers.

How can the office Career & Professional Development Help You?

Our department has fulltime staff who connect with employers in the community solely for the benefit of UAB students. Come talk to your career advisor for information on programs, events, how to build relationships, and what to say to someone you have never met before. Networking can be uncomfortable for some people, talking to a UAB career advisor will put you at ease and inspire you to get started.