How To Network In College - 5 Secret University Networking Tips

1.    Separate Yourself from Other Job Applicants with This Linkedin Outreach Strategy:

LinkedIn is a phenomenal tool that can be utilized by all students – from finance majors to software engineers. Numerous BBC members have leveraged LinkedIn to expand their network and earn themselves opportunities with some of the top companies in the country. Within LinkedIn, there are advanced search settings that allow users to filter results by location, colleges attended, job title, industry, and other characteristics. Watch this short TikTok to see how effortless it can be to scrape LinkedIn for professionals to reach out to at companies such as IBM, Tesla, and Goldman Sachs.

Linkedin Message to copy:

"Hi Name! My name is ____, and I am a fellow Ohio State student. I would love to work at Goldman Sachs and was wondering if you could give me some advice on landing a summer internship there! I'd greatly appreicate hearing from you!"

Students should utilize Linkedin’s search abilities to find people that they may have something niche in common with. To do this, use the general search bar and filter Linkedin for the specific company/positions of people you would like to connect with. For example, a friend of mine who played lacrosse throughout high school would search “lacrosse” in the general search bar, and then filter industries to “Venture Capital & Private Equity” and positions to “Partner” in order to find senior employees of venture capital funds to network with in hopes of learning more about their professional experiences. The next section will help you with initiating these conversations.

2.    Reach Out To Alumni and LinkedIn Users For Informational Interviews With This Template:

As mentioned in number 1 and shown in the TikTok, you should utilize LinkedIn to find people that you may have commonalities with that are at companies you aim to learn more about and potentially work for. The next step is reaching out to the people that you scrape off of LinkedIn – here are some ideas for an initial outreach (remember – keep it short and sweet!)

LinkedIn Message Example

During the initial message, I suggest asking for 15-20 minutes of their time to have an introductory phone call. If they respond with a time that works, send a calendar invite and ask them which phone number is best to reach them at (as you want show that you are eager to initiate the call) in your confirmation message – this is a common courtesy in any professional setting.

Coming up with a list of questions to ask during the phone call is a good idea, however it is important to always remain conversational throughout the chat. Building off of their answers and maintaining your eagerness to learn throughout the call is key. At the end of the day, a lot of jobs are given to candidates that may have similar qualifications on paper as others, however the employee and/or hiring team may have “liked” them more throughout the conversation (both formal interviews and informal networking chats).

Below are some questions you may want to ask during the initial phone call (you may also want to pocket some for a follow-up call a few months later to continue building the relationship):

3.    Getting An Internship Freshman Year Summer Can Open Doors In The Future. Here is how to get one:

A good friend of mine, we will call him non-Exotic Joe, knew he wanted to gain experience in the business space with a high-growth/early stage company. He utilized the above LinkedIn scraping method to find someone in a position of power at a company that interested him and sent out a well-written cold email to the CEO of an early-stage company. Eventually, the CEO responded to him (admittedly a week later due to his busy schedule) and mentioned he would be more than willing to sit down with Joe to discuss his career interests and aspirations.

Joe had a great initial conversation (asking questions along the lines of those listed above) and the CEO said he would like to stay in touch regarding opportunities the firm might be having for internships during the upcoming summers. A couple of months later, Joe noticed that the firm would be hiring interns in his area of interest. He pinged the CEO, submitted an application, and was asked right away to be a part of the interview process. Eventually, Joe secured the internship as he was a very qualified candidate. This early conversation may have not played a major role in the firm’s decision to hire Joe, however it always helps to have more people pulling for you in any situation.

How to land the internship:

Being proactive with your intentions and interests is key to landing an internship early on in your career. Most formal internship programs with large corporations (think F500) aim to have rising juniors or seniors so they can hire them full-time, however you do not have to wait this long to gain critical experience in your area of interest. Reach out to all types of firms – small, medium, and large enterprises in the fall to see if they plan to have internships for the coming summer. It is best to reach out early, as it allows you to have a point of contact at the firm that can (hopefully) help you with the interview process. Having a strong and compelling resume (both in terms of content and aesthetics) that you can attach to any outreach email strongly enhances your chances of getting a reply. Gain experiences prior to your internship by belonging to clubs and participating in extracurricular events your university offers (i.e. startup weekend). Make sure to craft a well-written email that is 5-6 sentences in length that highlights your strengths, and attach your resume for easy viewing by the recipient of your message.

4.    Go To Career Fairs and Come Prepared

As mentioned in our article, 10 tips for navigating the OSU Career Fair, here are some ways to prepare for a career fair. Below are the 3 top items to remember:

  1. Have your resume updated and ready to share
  2. Dress for success - whether it’s in person or online, wear business casual to formal attire
  3. Research the companies ahead of time

5.    Join A Business Club At Your College

Joining any club will help you make new connections. Here is some info on what to expect when joining a business club. I challenge you to look at the organizations at Ohio State to see which ones may interest you. Additionally, it may be helpful to look at the LinkedIn’s of upperclassmen that are currently in an area you would be interested in to see which organizations on campus they are involved with. Do not hesitate to go to a club meeting to see if it is the right fit for you – it may also be worth it to chat with a current member or two to learn about their experiences.

It is important to develop relationships with other members of the club – at the end of the day they are going above and beyond to spend more time within a similar area as yourself. Take full advantage of other members of the club as resources and mutually add value for each other. Stay in touch throughout the rest of your time at Ohio State and beyond, as you may never know when a relationship built during your collegiate years will help you professionally down the road.

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