Going to college has always been deemed the pinnacle of social progress for most people aged 17 and up. There is always talk about parties, organizations, and mentors. What is often forgotten in the conversation of social life in college is the art and usefulness of good networking and creating business connections. This is often because we assume that networking means making lifelong friends, not making life-long connections. The saying “it is not what you know, it is who you know” digs very deep in college as well as your post-college life. So introduce yourself to that one guy who comes to class late in a dinosaur onesie. You two may not be the best of friends, you might be a passing hello, but later down the line you two may have to work together and it is great to have a surprise reference. Here is a list of some tips and techniques that I suggest no matter your level of sociability.
GETTING IN THE ROOM
I think this is self-explanatory, you cannot meet anyone if you are not in the room. Here are some suggestions:
(If you can) go to your dean’s/president’s/professors office(s) or a study area near there and study. Go there once a week on the same day and time. People will take notice and you can introduce yourself and get to know other regulars. This is a less direct approach but still effective.
Go to random student organizations or events being hosted on campus. If you see people gathered at an event when walking around on campus, stop and talk, slip into random marches, jump into sports games outside or at the gym (even if you’ve never played). This is a more direct approach to meeting others, but by showing up at these events and activities, you’ll begin to meet other people with a wide variety of interests.
Go to parties. Yes, I know parties are supposed to be fun, but you can honestly get to connect with those around you in a less serious manner. Being in a space where you can get to know someone without the stiffness or ego that can come in a classroom or academic setting can allow you to find new things in common outside of what first brought you together. Making these other outside connections can give a sort of landing space in case the two of you were to interact in a new setting, there is someone to sit next to that you know and can identify with. These kinds of connections can be helpful because they give you a deeper understanding of those around you.
I’M IN THE ROOM AUBRE WHAT NOW?! (Glad you asked)
MOVE YOUR SEAT IN CLASS! It might sound weird, but just randomly move to an empty seat every 5-6 class sessions and you’ll meet your different classmates and can make connections with them (so yes talking in class is good every now and again).
Coffee isn’t just for courting. The famous college coffee date isn’t just for getting a partner, it can also be a place to connect with professors, faculty, and other students for projects and even idle chit chat. This is the place you can get personal and give people a sense of who you are. Definitely a place for making lasting impressions.
SEALING THE DEAL
Take inventory of your relationships. Figure out if there are some you’d like to keep and at what capacity. Remember, you are not going to be everyone’s best friend and it is okay not to be. It is okay if you only see a good acquaintance with some people. There is no reason to feel pressured to entertain everyone. If you make a positive lasting impression and maybe exchange some social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc.) that is plenty.
Make sure to check in every now and again. This can be a quick social media message, a post comment, or an E-mail/text. Checking in is very important, make sure you do it.
Networking does not have to be a big scary event with people in suits and snobbish attitudes. It can be as low pressure as you make it. There is a network for everyone and it is completely up to YOU who you want to include. Don’t be afraid to take up space, just be courteous of the space you are taking and THANK EVERYONE who gives you proper respect.
WRITTEN BY Aubre Thomas Central Michigan University
I am the epitome of a personality that is way bigger than my size. I come from Detroit, MI and I am a proud student at Central Michigan University. I am the co-owner of a start-up clothing brand XonIT.