Building a Professional Network as an Online Student: 3 Ways to Get Started

August 9, 2020

Having a strong “Rolodex” of professional relationships by the time of graduation should be one of your top priorities as a student. Because while it may seem trivial, it’s true that your career isn’t so much about what you know, but who you know. Do you need proof?

Keep in mind that according to some studies, up to 85% of all positions are filled through networks. And despite the high level of employment across the country, in reality, there is still fierce competition for the best jobs. According to a Glassdoor study, the average job posting attracts 250 applicants, of which only 2% even get an interview.

As a university student, it is therefore important to prioritize the development of your professional network. However, it can be difficult to come to terms with this mindset when classes, courses, and studies are competing for your time. Fortunately, whether online or on campus, the college offers integrated ways to bond with three groups of people who can play an important role in your future.

Below you will learn how as an online student you can interact with these groups so that you have an enviable list of meaningful connections before you graduate.

Your teachers

As a student, you have the unique opportunity to come into contact with experienced and closely related people in your fields. We’re talking about your teachers, of course. They were chosen to conduct their courses on the basis of their extensive knowledge and often years or decades of practical experience. If you graduate without a close relationship with at least some of your instructors, you’ve missed out on a great opportunity.

But don’t assume that your teachers are ready to do you a favor after you graduate just because you were in your class. You have to use work to get to know them and give them a good impression. Many instructors have special office hours for their students online where they can be contacted by phone or other means of communication. Take advantage of these opportunities and work hard on your homework to showcase your name as someone you would like to recommend long after the class is over.

Your classmates

After your teachers, your classmates are the second most important group you have in your network when you graduate. Eventually, they will likely enter a field similar to yours, and there might be an opportunity to help each other in the future. Although you don’t have the time with your classmates like in a traditional college class, there are still plenty of ways to bond with your peers as students online.

Here are some ways to build strong bonds (and even friendships) with your classmates online:

Participate in class discussions and activities. In general, online courses are designed to encourage and promote student collaboration. Tasks may include working in a small team to complete a project or participating in regular roundtables. Take advantage of these opportunities to work and meet your classmates.

Connect to social networks. To get to know your classmates in a much more personal environment, leave the virtual classroom, and transfer your interactions to social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat. Also, add them on LinkedIn so they can help each other with the skills they learn together during the course.

If possible, meet personally. It’s conceivable that your classmates online aren’t as far away as you think. After all, people from all over the world can enroll in classes online, which means they can live thousands of miles away or just down the street. Find out where your classmates are geographically online. If there is one nearby, meet them for a coffee.

 

Alumni

Students, especially students in your specific program, are the third group that should be part of your network when you graduate. By talking to others who know your area of ​​expertise before you graduate, you can get advice and make potential connections. When contacting graduates, keep in mind that you already share an important life experience: attending the same program and/or the same university.