College student networking

College student networking
Networking in college

College student networking

Today’s post is for college students who are looking to level up their networking skills. Specifically, getting noticed so you can land the interview. 

A couple of times a year, we visit a few of the local colleges and talk about interviewing and resume writing. We founder-entrepreneurial friend who also visits college campuses. The only difference is that he talks about being an entrepreneur. We talk about resumes and job interviews.

There were scary commonalities between our experiences. We are confident that sharing them will be beneficial to all job seekers. Although we are presenting different topics, our experiences were uncannily similar. Hopefully, you can take some of the learning’s and apply them to your own job search. 

The similarities

  • We both present to classes from 50 to 200 students and talk for 45 min to a couple of hours.
  • There are always a couple of very attentive students, a few folks obviously bored, and the rest mildly interested.
  • When the talk is over, there is the polite “golf clap” and then the young future minds of America exit quickly.

3-5% of the audience members hang around after the presentation. These students also share a common theme:

  • They introduce themselves and we shake hands.
  • We hear “Thank You’s” for coming out to the class because they know this is volunteer work.
  • Students have a few follow-up questions or personal observations about our presentation.

The 3-5% numbers are fairly consistent

If the class is smaller than 30, it isn’t a surprise if no one swings by to say hello. But across the board, 3-5% is the consistent showing.  For the record, we absolutely appreciate it when the audience comes up to validate our efforts.  Yes, it makes us feel like the time was well spent and that we may “actually have a clue” in our areas of expertise.

Similarities continue

Within the next day or so we receive LinkedIn requests for network connections from that 3-5% that stayed after the presentation. Most of these LinkedIn requests have no personal message, they are just “requests”.

  • Of the 3-5%, one or two students will have a short intro in their LinkedIn invitation, reminding us where we met, and additional appreciation.
  • Within the same week, we receive an invitation or two to have coffee or an invitational interview.  These will come from those one or two students.
  • We hear nothing from the rest of the class.  Silence. Trees falling in a forest and a cricket’s kind of “silence”.

Of course, we accept these invitations

At least one (if not both) of these students will knock it out of the ballpark!  They make that great impression that sticks with us. They do this by showing up and demonstrating the following:

  • Insist on paying for the coffee. (Don’t worry, we both always pay)
  • Conduct LinkedIn research on our work history.
  • Research the companies we work with.
  • Ask questions about how we progressed in our career.
  • Follow up with a thank you note.

As June approaches the students are getting ready to graduate. The similarities between our two experiences continue down the  similar road.

The wrong road

  • The number of students requesting a LinkedIn connection increases significantly and these requests have no personal note.
  • Requests are followed up with a note that is short and assuming.  “You spoke at my school, what can you do to help me find a job?” 
  • My entrepreneurial friend and I are reminded of the HBO series “Shameless”.  If you aren’t familiar with it, you should check it out. This show gives new meaning to the word.

Our home run hitter

Our faith in humanity is restored because we hear from those one or two students. These students:

  • Send us a short note reminding us how we met and the coffee we shared.
  • Send a cover letter, resume and a note that we can literally cut and paste into our own email to be sent out to a potential employer.
  • They usually have searched our LinkedIn network and picked out 1 or 2 companies of interest (and no more than 2) and ask for an introduction.  This candidate eliminates all barriers to entry and makes our efforts to assist their search frictionless for us.
  • Our home run hitter usually lands a job and we keep in touch with that person.  That job may or may not have come through us but they keep us updated and thank us for the help.

I know our company has hired a number of folks that used the above method.

The exact approach

I don’t know where our Home Run Hitters learned how to execute.  Maybe the parents were execs in business or they were professional executive recruiters. This is EXACTLY how I would approach the networking opportunity.  These candidates demonstrated the behavior I want to work with.

Key Takeaway: It doesn’t take much to stand out in a crowd. Successful candidates show common courtesy and make it easy for us to help.  It doesn’t take much to stick out in a crowd of average.

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