“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” this might just be the perfect tagline for a Networking 101 class. Only if it was being taught in school. #need
While that has yet to actually happen, it’s no doubt that knowing (read: mastering) how to network is one of the most important skills every student should learn and develop even before they join the workforce. When fully grasped, it can mean the difference between getting your dream job… or not. Talk about pressure!
If you’re an international student hoping to sharpen your networking skills, you’ve come to the right place! Networking looks a lil different when you’re studying in a foreign land, but it’s a difference you can use to your advantage. Here’s how you can do just that:
Prepare your elevator pitch.
There’s a reason why it’s called an elevator pitch. It’s meant to be short, sweet, and straight to the point. Just like small talk in an elevator ride! As an international student, you can already expect to be asked a gazillion times about your background. So might as well come prepared! Think through your answers. The rule of thumb is to make them remember you more than just being… well, an international student.
PS. Practice your lines! How you communicate is a huge part of effective networking.
Meet people beyond your circle.
The ironic thing about studying abroad is that it kinda forces you to network just by being there. So the best way to go is to grab every opportunity! Build relationships with people in your college, but also mingle with those from other departments. For starters, why not go that university event after class? After all, networking is meant to build and strengthen your contacts, not just within your interest but even outside of it. The more, the merrier!
As an international student, one of the best ways you can network is through volunteering. Think passions and advocacies that make your heart flutter! Not only is it a fun and worthwhile use of your time, but it’s also a great opportunity to meet people in and out of school a.k.a. network time. And as if those reasons aren’t good enough to convince you, these activities would look good on your résumé too. Win-win!
This may sound like a no-brainer but studying hard should actually be part of your networking strategy. Whether you realize it or not, your professors have ~connections~ way more than you can imagine. By being the A+ student that you are (read: coming to class on time and well-prepared), your professor might just give you a lil extra credit that’s worth more than good grades: a whole academia of brilliant minds you can meet and learn from. Now, go raise that hand higher!
Get connected to your local community.
There’s no place like home… even when you’re studying on the other side of the globe. Aside from meeting acquaintances in school, volunteer activities, and other social events, look for your kababayan! After all, no one is more willing to help than one’s own. Do you know a tito or tita in the city? Maybe it’s time to call ‘em up for some coffee date!
PS. More than just meeting acquaintances and building relationships, they can also help bring home a lil closer and keep the #sepanx away!
Use social media like a pro.
Put your tech-savvy skills into good use! In a highly competitive and global world we live in, you can be as social as you are strategic. Social networking websites are a great place to meet people (virtually), and start a conversation with a single post, tweet or story. What do your social media accounts look like? What kind of stuff do you share? While we understand it to be personal, you might want to consider adding that profesh look you would want your future boss and colleagues to see. *brb posting intellectual stuff*
Network on the go.
There are A LOT of networking events out there—formal gatherings, sit-down dinners, informal coffee hangouts. You name it! Chances are, it’s been done. The thing about networking is that it isn’t so much on the place as it is for the person. Everywhere you go is a networking opportunity. As an international student, you may find yourself traveling from city to city exploring your new home. Why not casually initiate a conversation with your plane seatmate or that lady sitting alone in the corner? You’ll never know the person you’re gonna meet next!
PS. Networking doesn’t always have to be about possible school and job opportunities. Sometimes, valuable connections start with just talking about your hobbies and interests in life!
Studying abroad is an exciting opportunity to learn and meet new people. Make the most out of it! Sharpen your interpersonal skills, and master your networking prowess by remembering these seven tips. Don’t worry, we’re pretty sure you’ll network like a boss. Happy socializing!