Everyone talks about it and there are countless ways to do it: "networking". According to the Oxford Languages definition, networking is "making and maintaining contacts for the purpose of exchanging information and advancing one’s career." When studying online at IGC, networking can be a challenge at first because you do not meet other students in person every day. However, many of us have been using social media channels such as Facebook and Instagram since school days and have practically grown up with digital networking. In general, it’s important to find a good balance between online and offline meetings. Until everything is back to normal and we meet again in class, we would like to give you some tips on successful networking during online studies, and thus make it easier for you to start networking professionally.
1. Use social networks & business networks truly
The first step into digital networking can be to connect with fellow students on your degree program via the social media of your choice. Then find out more about LinkedIn and Xing, the two best-known business networks. LinkedIn also works internationally, whilst Xing is the common professional network in German-speaking countries. Business networks function like a digital CV that can be viewed by any contact potentially interesting for your professional future. A business-like profile photo and clear wording help to create a good first impression. When it comes to digital networking, the rule is “quality, not quantity”. Of course, you do not have to have a profile on every digital platform. It is better to have fewer, but well-managed accounts that you can keep track of and maintain. The choice of social and business networks is large, find the right ones for you that you personally also enjoy using, and then it will be easier to maintain them. Our tip: Set a date once a month to consciously reflect on what you have achieved in digital networking this month, how active you were and what you want to focus on next month. During these sessions, you can update all your online profiles so that your network knows what you are working on. This is the best way to take advantage of your digital networking, such as getting opportunities for internships and being found by potential employers or recruiters.
2. Discover online learning groups and forums
Study groups are a good opportunity to make new contacts when studying at a university. Try to participate in a study group even when studying online, for example by contacting fellow students or via study forums on the degree programme. If you can’t find a suitable online study group, you can set up a study group yourself. Answering questions from other students online, helping them and exchanging ideas will promote your network. There are specific forums for almost all study topics; e.g. for foreign languages, there are forums for finding tandem learning partners, so that two people with different native tongues can teach each other the foreign language – and friendships for life might develop. Through online learning groups, you might also get to know other students in your area with whom offline meetings are possible.
3. Participate in offline meetings for networking
Provided that is possible in times of the pandemic, be sure to attend the available offline meetings during your online studies. Again, be active, volunteer for the organisation or as a helper and gather information about the participants in advance. Where do they work, in which field of expertise and what are possible points of contact with your own studies? This is a good way to get into conversation and make valuable contacts. Face-to-face networking is effective because personal conversations often leave a deeper impression than commenting on a post on social media. The combination of offline and online networking does the trick! Because if you do not meet someone regularly, the memory fades. Therefore, a few days after the face-to-face conversation, get in touch via social media and continue to maintain your contact online. Of course, you can also use your free time - specifically or casually - for networking by attending groups for activities such as going for a run and playing tennis. Other ways to get involved include student council and debate clubs, as well as job fairs, conferences, job shadowing, alumni networks and mentoring programs, at a later stage. It may feel a bit exhausting at first to put a lot of commitment into networking, but it will be worth it and ideally, it will develop into a very valuable, balanced give and take. We wish you much success and joy networking!