An Introduction to Networking for Interns (or anyone)
Networking is a lifelong process, but you can learn how to use your first internship to start making connections. Those early contacts will be an important source for job leads and referrals.
Getting a head start on networking increases your chances of success in the modern workplace. You’ve probably heard statistics about workers changing jobs and careers more frequently in recent years. A study by LinkedIn reported that Millennials jump jobs four times in their first decade out of college, and often switch into entirely different industries.
Start now to build up resources for the transitions ahead, and expand your options so you can pursue your dream job instead of settling for something less. Take a look at these first steps in networking for interns.
Face-to-Face Networking for Interns
Communicating online is efficient, but face time gives you the opportunity to deepen your relationships. Stand out from the pack by practicing your conversation skills and meeting with others in person.
Remember names. Start with the basics by greeting your coworkers by name and paying attention to their personal projects and preferences. They’ll be impressed by your consideration.
Express interest. Show your enthusiasm by pitching in around the office and asking relevant questions. Find out what your colleagues love about their jobs and what they’re trying to accomplish.
Attend events. Sign up for workshops and parties that may be included in your internship, especially if you’re working with a large employer. Check out industry publications for similar local events.
Organize activities. Take the lead in organizing a softball league or holiday food drive. Enjoy meeting employees outside of your department.
Share your goals. When it’s appropriate, ask for assistance or welcome offers from colleagues who want to know about your career plans. The more specific you are about your needs, the easier it is for others to share their resources effectively.
Understand your contribution. You may be new on the job, but you’re very valuable. Senior employees will find a sense of gratification in lending you a hand.
Online Networking for Interns
Of course, technology counts too. You can meet more players in your industry and access extensive information with ease.
- Manage your image. Take charge of your online reputation. Clean up any embarrassing search results. Create a simple website or invest in your own domain.
- Update your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is the largest social network for working professionals, and it’s growing fastest among new graduates. When others search for you, ensure they’re seeing your latest experience and skills. Add visual appeal with work samples, videos, or diagrams.
Collect endorsements and recommendations. Colleagues who rave about you and your work can let others know by giving you a public stamp of approval. Seek a positive recommendation from your internship manager and anyone else who knows your work well, including other interns. Be ready to reciprocate or thank them by taking them out for coffee.
Join conversations. Participate in forums and discussions of professional issues on social media or comment sections of publications. If your knowledge is limited, you can still ask questions or let others know that you agree with their position or admire their work.
Showcase your achievements. Make it easy for employers to see your work samples. Create a digital portfolio and include a link when you network online.
Networking is a must whether you’re hoping your summer internship will end with a permanent offer or looking for glowing recommendations that will help you move on. Have fun and build up your confidence while you develop mutually beneficial relationships with other professionals in your field.