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What's the best way to network with professionals you don't know?

I am a gap year student, going to college next year #givingiscaring #student #gap-year #internships

Thank you so much everyone! What amazing help! Cindy B.

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Alex’s Answer

Leveraging your existing social network (linkedin, organizations you are a part of already) is a great way to warm up connections. Absent what is often referred to as 'social capital', you need to create your own connections. The first thing to know is that putting yourself out there is awkward and uncomfortable... and that's okay! Here are a few ideas on how to warm up connections in professional circles you are interested in learning more about:

1. Talk to your professors in that field about it and ask if they know anyone willing to meet with you and mentor you
2. Reach out to recruiting departments within a firm in your target field. Let them know that you are considering a career path leading you in that professional field. Ask them if there is someone they could talk to from the firm about the career field.
3. Search LinkedIn for people in your geographical area and field of interest. Send them a 'cold call' type message, introducing yourself and letting them know you are interested in their career field and are looking for advice. Some will accept the invite, others will not.

Thank you Alex! Cindy B.

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Deijana’s Answer

As someone who went to college, I know how intimidating and unusual networking can be but you want people to know you and what you are all about. With our amazing technology and resources, you can network online. I love to use Linkedin. Here you learn about other's career paths and their professional accomplishments. It's also a great way to find out who may have a connection to someone your interested in meeting and can ask for an introduction.

Thank you :) Cindy B.

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John’s Answer

Cindy networking has emerged as one of the primary ways to land a job. This process is a way for you to establish relationships with individuals who can introduce you to new opportunities that you can't find on a job board. Networking can help you with career planning by providing you with a better understanding of various careers as well as information about numerous companies that you may not find by surfing the web. With this information, your career planning process can be based on direct information rather than rumors or biased company literature. Having a strong network can help you distinguish your personal brand, connect with other professionals, exchange industry expertise, and more easily find a job.

Since 2002, LinkedIn has become the world’s largest online professional networking site with millions of users in over 200 countries all over the world. Linked in was founded on 2002 December 28. and was Launched in 2003 May 5. It is available in over 20 languages, which is one of the ruling aspects that make Linkedin unique from other Networks. LinkedIn allows users to explore the brand new features in it, by providing timely updations within the site. It allows the users to share their cv's, professional experiences and all to keep up healthy professional relationships. Linked In holds the 25th position in Alexa Global Ranking and 12th Position in the US.

Udyomitra is one of the best Global Professional Network. It is an ultimate free platform for the professionals and employers. It was launched in December 2016 with a vision of wiping out the unemployment in rural and urban areas. With in a short Period after launching, It became a healthy competitor to LinkedIn, Meetup, etc. It generates quality filled Professional Resumes for the users along with the creation of the Personal Profile. Udyomitra provides a better profile filtering to Provide the opportunities to the Professionals according to their preferred Location, Stream, Qualifications etc. The time line of Udyomitra is designed so as to avail the opportunities for the users up to their priorities. It Provides incredible connectivity features to coop up with the Professional preferences. Udyomitra is not only a Professional Network, but It is also a Social Media Platform for the Professional to maintain their Professional Relationships.

Outside of networking, there are other resources that aspiring professionals may want to take advantage of when planning their careers. Campus career centers are available for students in postsecondary institutions. Students can meet with career centers to discuss career options based on their education, interests, and goals. Many schools also provide extensive online resources, including opportunities to network with alumni. School and career counselors are available for high school students and they may also be hired by individuals who have left school. These counselors can talk to aspiring professionals and provide career aptitude tests to help with career planning. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website provides in-depth information about lots of careers, including job duties, outlook, salary information, educational requirements, and advancement opportunities, all of which can be helpful when planning a career. As you plan your career, it can be helpful to network, starting with friends and former co-workers and networking both online and in person. You can also get career planning information from counselors and online resources.

Thanks John!!! Cindy B.

Your Welcome Cindy. There is no royal road to anything. One thing at a time, all things in succession. That which grows fast, withers as rapidly. That which grows slowly, endures. John Frick

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Epoch’s Answer

Hello Cindy,

When I used do internships at companies, I tried to attend as many networking events as possible. As an introvert, it is outside my comfort zone talking to people I do not know but the feeling of achievement after having conversations with them is great.

My advice is you should take the courage to approach them, be it via LinkedIn or in person during a networking event. The first step is always the hardest but the more you do it, the better you will get. Ask them questions, get to know them, and show that you're interested in what they do. You will definitely leave good impressions with some and can stay connected with them.

Finally, do not let negative experiences stop you from networking and try to learn from them instead.

Good luck and all the best!

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Brian’s Answer

Hi there,

There are tons of ways to network but honestly I have found the most authentic connections come from simply time and exposure. The more you expose yourself to specific people in your field the more you will develop a relationship with them and the more likely they are to offer you roles in the future. I would start with:

1. Facebook groups
2. Join local chapters (like ISC^2)
3. Participate in forum discussions
You can try Twitter and Reddit to start just search terms that interest you
4. Check out the meetup app and look for career growth groups
5. See if your school has any local groups
6. When you do start class a lot of your classmates could be future colleagues or will work with your future colleagues. Make a good first impression and be vocal in class. Make your presence known and volunteer for stuff. More people will gravitate towards you

Great help, thanks Brian. Cindy B.

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Daniel’s Answer

Hi Cindy!

There's an active and a passive way to network with professionals you don't know.

The active way is to get people you already know to introduce you. This is the best way, because relationships are built on trust, and when you work through someone with a level of trust already established, it's much easier to get a foot in the door. Active networking can sound intimidating, but you really only need to know a handful of people in your industry for this to work really well! Start small and your network will grow steadily over time as your career progresses.

The passive way is to build a following on a networking site. For example, on LinkedIn, the more connections you have, the more likely you are to appear in search results and for people you don't know to have a connection in common with you. I get a couple of people per month reaching out to me with job opportunities and other networking opportunities via LinkedIn. These tend to be a bit hit or miss. I've definitely gotten jobs from passive networking, but the signal to noise ratio is much lower than with active networking.

Now, whether you go the active route, the passive route, or both, it's important to be deliberate. When you ask someone you know to introduce you to other people, ideally it's someone you've already had a great working relationship with. The rule of reciprocity in psychology is key here. When you do great work for someone, they're going to want to return the favor. That can even take place years afterward when you're no longer working together!

If you go the passive route, focus on quality. Make sure your profile highlights the work of which you're most proud. Only add connections to people you know and who know you. Link to your portfolio website if you have one, or to other examples of your work. Make sure your contact information is available. Try to keep your work profile focused on your career and professional goals.

For me personally, I've had more success with active networking, and it's just more rewarding because you can build meaningful relationships with people over multiple jobs and sometimes decades. But some of the best active networking opportunities originate because someone reached out on LinkedIn, so definitely try both and see what works for you!

Daniel recommends the following next steps:

Rule of Reciprocity: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reciprocity_(social_psychology)

Thank you Daniel, really helps Cindy B.

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Jen’s Answer

Hi there - As already mentioned, LinkedIn is a great resources to make connections. Try connecting with people in your desired field and send them an email explaining your situation. Not only will those people turn into possible connections, but they may refer you to other people or organizations where you can make even deeper connections. It's a great place to start!

Thanks !!! Cindy B.

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Amy’s Answer

Go to LinkedIn and see who YOU know that might know THEM. Then just start reaching out and asking them for a few minutes of their time to get advice. People enjoy giving advice on what they know best. Be hungry, be curious. Just ask!

Thanks Amy! Cindy B.

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Elisabetta’s Answer

Hi Cindy, I read others responses and I believe that you have a lot of suggestions and advice on how to build a network during your gap year. However, I would like to ask if you thought about which field or area you are targeting, when you mention you want to network with professionals - do you already know what type of internship you might be looking for ? Is your need for networking for a future or near-term job? Thinking through this will help you shape better the strategy for networking. For example, you might not know with certainty what field you would like to work in - in that case, you might want to keep a lot of options open. I do think LinkedIn is the best way to start, also because it helps you understand the types of jobs and profiles/CVs exist out there. We all have our very own path so getting inspired by what others did (what experience did they get before moving on to that field, what is their academic background, etc) can definitely help. List down all fields that attract you and filter contacts by region/area - you will see so many professionals are happy to help young students like yourself!

Thank you!! Cindy B.

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Jayan’s Answer

As others have said, LinkedIn is definitely a valuable resource to find professionals with whom you have mutual connections. It's especially worthwhile to network with alumni of your school, as going to the same school provides a good basis for conversation and shared experiences.

Thanks Jayan 😊 Cindy B.

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Eric’s Answer

Cindy, you have received some excellent advice in the comments above. The only thing I will add is to reach out to the local chapter of whatever professional society you are interested in. Most professional societies have monthly meetings, whether for social purposes or for education, and most give a significant student discount to attract young aspiring professionals to be a part of their group. It will be a great way to get some quality face-time with other professionals. Just be aware, that most such societies are temporarily pausing such in-person meetings amid the current global circumstances of Covid-19.

Thank you Eric :) Cindy B.