Who you know can get you a job after college.

Most people don’t realize that 85 percent of jobs come through connections and not just applying online or to job ads.They say that the people with the biggest networks have the biggest net worth. Yet many, maybe most students don’t use their college experience as a time to build those networks. And the networks can include professors, deans and alumni as well as your roommate’s parents.

The obvious first place to look for who might help you get a job after college will be the people you work for while you are in college. This might be the supervisor at your internship site. First, you should have internships or chances to “test-drive” careers that are of interest to see if they really do fit what your image of them is and what you really want to do. If you do a great job you may even get an offer to come back.  At the very least you could end up with someone willing to write a letter of recommendation or even be a mentor for you. Someone on whom you have made a good impression in that work context may keep you in mind if they hear of future opportunities. I know of students who were invited to come to company sponsored events because they made such a good impression and these events gave them even more opportunities to expand their networks further.

Doing a good job at the job (paid or unpaid) that you have should include not only doing the tasks assigned really well but also how you manage relationships, your attitude, your appearance, your courtesy and your smile.

Those same characteristics can make a good impression on your professors and deans who also can be among those you know who can help you get a job after college.

They often have networks in their professional associations or beyond. I have seen situations where a professor raving about a wonderful student to a spouse got that student a job through the spouse. What the faculty and administrators at your college should see is an eager, energetic, curious and hard working student who comes across as polite and represents the school well. Those students get introduced to leaders and important figures at graduations and other events.

Events on campus are another place to meet people who can get you a job after college. There are often alumni panels, political figures speaking on campus, receptions or other events where students are encouraged to attend. Too few take advantage of these chances to meet people who can get them a job after college. The strategy is to ask a question when that opportunity is offered. Or you can go up to a speaker and say how much you enjoyed their remarks and could you have a business card. Or you can approach an alumnus at an event and ask what the college was like when they were there and what they are doing now. People love to talk about themselves. Then ask for a card.

Don’t throw away those cards when you get them. This is where the real winners bring it home in making relationships with people who can help them get a job after college. Follow-up with an email and state where you met and what impressed you about the meeting. Then ask if you can have a tiny bit of their time to talk more about the field – do not ask for a job. What you want is an informational interview. You both learn and make a good impression in the process. If you are reaching out to someone who has graduated from your school be sure to say in the email subject line that you are a student at that school. Nine times out of ten that will get you a response—even from very important people with busy lives.

Use community service to both fill your life with gratifying experiences but also to develop new skills and build your networks with people who can help you find a job after college.

I have seen students volunteer to help at charity events or in crisis situations and make both meaningful relationships with people of shared interests but also contacts that can come in handy later when you enter the job market.

Finally don’t forget the internet. Linkedin is the website of choice for professional networking purposes. You can follow people in the field you want to pursue, learn about industries, follow issues through professional discussion groups, find alumni who are in the field you are seeking and much more. Linkedin is more formal than facebook and you need to be sure to put your best foot forward in that space. Keep your facebook and twitter content clean and professional too so that people who might help you get a job after college see the best of who you are.

Expand who you know if you are going to succeed in getting that job after college.

By Marcia Y. Cantarella, PhD, Author, I CAN Finish College: The Overcome Any Obstacle and Get Your Degree Guide

For more tips see I CAN Finish College: The Overcome Any Obstacle and Get Your Degree Guide  Chapter 10. Visit College Countdown.com for more about Marcia Cantarella

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