Social networks like Facebook and Instagram need no introduction. These all-pervasive technologies have altered the way we all live, especially the new generation. But have you thought about socializing or networking, whether technologically or in person, for your study abroad goals? Intrigued? Let’s look at all the things from a new perspective – how you can network your way into your dream school.
What is networking?
Networking is building connections, nothing more. Do people know you? For what? Do you pop up in their mind when they think of something, say a curious student or a marathon runner? Building connections with individuals – fellow students, faculty, staff, anyone! – that recognize you for your skills is the art of networking.
Why network for college/graduate admissions?
Networking can be an effective tool to get a competitive advantage in the admission process. Your scores, achievements, profile, etc are valuable, but beyond them, you do not exist for the admissions committee. You can change that by getting in touch with them and letting them know the person behind the paper. If the school knows you as an individual, you are likely to be the favorite pick when all other aspects of your profile clash with those of another candidate. However, note that networking alone is not going to take you places, so it is not a replacement for scores, academics, and other achievements.
The network you build during admissions can be further developed while studying at school and will yield benefits over the much longer period of your career.
Who should you network with?
Just about everyone! Network with current students to know about the college culture and activities. Network with professors to share your interests and request them to mentor you. Network with school counselors to know more about what the school offers. The list is endless. The core point is to get out there, talk to people, have an intelligent conversation, and build the aura of a reliable and trustworthy individual.
How to network?
In the age of technology, anyone is just a tag away. But social networks, perceived as superficial platforms in academic settings, are not the best for application purposes. Drop emails, request an appointment for phone/video calls, or just offer to meet in person. Whatever you do, make sure they remember you for a good reason!
Do’s of Networking
- Network widely and regularly.
- During each interaction, have a specific goal. For example, for a faculty, you may want to ask a few questions about their field of work. This will ensure that you have a targeted, meaningful discussion.
- Establish how you have something of value to offer. It cannot always be an ‘I am good at something’ thing. It can be a plain and simple ‘I am really interested in what you do/say’. Remember, the objective is to make an impression, and a genuine one.
- Ask for an email or a LinkedIn connection for further follow-up. Follow up regularly! If you met someone three years ago and didn’t connect since then, it is not a strong connection.
Don’ts of Networking
- Networking with an outright objective – “Give me a seat or a job, please!”– never works. Do not network for a quick benefit, but do for a long term association.
- Don’t forget to do your research well. There is no worse impression than you meeting someone for the first time and have nothing concrete to ask or offer. They will only remember you as a time-waster!
- Don’t be pretentious and do not lie. Networks work best when they are built on trust. If they don’t trust you or find out that you are faking, you are worse off than networking with them in the first place.
When to network?
There is not really an ideal time for networking. Networking should not be an objective; it should be a lifestyle. For practical reasons though, you should start networking a few months before the admissions deadline. That means, it is another line item for you to work on when you are getting ready for your standardized tests.
When you start studying or working, cultivate networking as a regular habit.
Like we always say, nothing will work if not put in action. So figure out three people you would like to meet in your dream school, drop them a line to request an interaction, prepare for the meeting, and make your first impression. Share your experiences below for other readers as well.
At Beyond Consultant, we help you bring your dreams to life, by guiding in your overseas education journey. For a free consultation, please get in touch with us here.