How To Network As International Student
Networking is definitely not what you are thinking of and it doesn’t have to be a daunting task. It is actually easy, fun and most importantly, a great asset.
“If you want to go somewhere it is best to find someone who has already been there” this holds a 100% true when it comes to networking. And since thousands of Indians travel to study abroad every year, chances are that you may cross paths or come in contact with fellow Indians who are either studying or have studied abroad.Studying abroad will also broaden horizons to connect with several different nationalities as well.
According to a recent report by LinkedIn- the global professional networking portal- about 85% job vacancies across organizations are filled via networking before these positions are even advertised.
Stay Calm, Networking Is Not As Bad As You Think
Most people think networking is all about getting the first impression right to make connections with influential people.This is probably why most people are intimidated by the idea of it, but now is the time to change your preconceived ideas.
Networking is a process of building up acquaintances. It means getting to know them, their interests, what they do, and occasionally reaching out to them when you have an opportunity for them, or if they can help you in your career. It is a win-win relationship. In short, networking is the business term for socialising.
Building Your Network As An International Student
- Get to know your professors
Your professors are much better connected than you think. Sit in the front seats, greet them when they enter the lecture hall and participate in class. This will help get you noticed and build a rapport with them. A good reference from a professor will always count in your favour!
- Join a student organization
Most schools abroad host student organizations catering to a wide variety of student interests. Apart from student organizations, you can also become member of cultural group for e.g Indian students cultural group. If in case your school doesn’t have one then go ahead and form one who would be interested in joining you! This is a great opportunity to befriend fellow NRI’s and make connection with them. You never know who could turn out to be a great help in your future job hunt.
- Talk to students in your class
Is your professor running late? Put your phone down and talk to the students around you. Find out what their interests and ask them about their career aspirations. This is a great opportunity to make new friends, especially since you already have common ground. Who knows, this might turn into a useful contact in the future or, if you are lucky, a life long friendship. So put yourself out there in class today and say “hi” to someone new.
- Look at your personal network
I have been fortunate enough to meet with CEO’s, COO’s and GM’s by utilising my network. Find out what your friends parents do and ask if you can meet them for coffee. One of my colleagues landed a summer internship at my company because her friends’ mother is the owner of the company!
- Work for your student newspaper
You might not want to become a journalist, but you will always benefit from being a good writer. Working for the school newspaper means that you will get to meet students from other faculties that you otherwise might not engage with.
- Reach out to Alumni
Contact your university's career office, or your lecturer, and ask them if they can help you connect with alumni from your school. LinkedIn is also a great platform to connect with alumni and build your network.
- Volunteer to work for free
Not only is this a great way to gain work experience, but you will also meet people that you otherwise might not have had the opportunity to connect with. This is your opportunity to show people what you are made of and it might land you a job.
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Remember This While Building Your Network
It is always important to maintain your network. Give them a call every now and then or send them a message just to check in and find out how things are going. It is always a great touch if you remember details about events in their life or things that they are interested in.
I received great advice from my mentors once, it is a sign of respect to the other person in your network when you show up looking professional. Make sure that you are well groomed, even if it is just an informal coffee at Starbucks.
It’s important to choose your network wisely and be mindful of who you associate yourself with. Avoid associating with people who have a bad reputation because their bad habits might be made to reflect on you.
Very few people realise that your network is a very important asset to have. For some industries, you are more likely to be called for an interview if you have a good network. One of the best times to start building your network and practising your networking skills is while you are at studying. Remember to take a break from your studies and use the time to have fun and get to know new people.
If you are interested about life as an international student, check out our blogs!
About the Author: Lizan Gray, is currently an editorial assistant for an online company in Dubai. An adventurer at heart, she is originally from South Africa and busy finishing her degree in Business Administration.
About the Co-Author: Mustafa Sutarwala is an all-round creative marketing graduate from Amity University Dubai, and is currently working in Dubai. He's inclined to digital marketing communications and works as the Creative Ninja for SchoolApply.;