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The last semester has flown by and it is now time to stop thinking about assignments and finals. Step back and think about the reason you chose to continue your education. Maybe you wanted to switch careers or get more business knowledge. Whatever the reason, the degree you are pursuing will only open doors if you put the time in to networking.
Winter break is the perfect time to reinvigorate or jumpstart (again) your career strategy. Now is the time to set 1-2 goals a week around networking. Opportunities do not just appear, they are established via networking. Write that email to a college friend working at one of your target companies and invite him or her to connect in person or via phone. Start making a list of alumni you want to reach out to and ask to take them to coffee to learn more about their roles/backgrounds. Spur the conversation and see where it goes. If you plan on going out of town, identify companies based in that city and reach out to professionals in roles interesting to you. If you can connect with an alum or friend, do so, but do not be afraid to contact a stranger. Let them know that you are in town on holiday and would enjoy meeting them for coffee to learn about their role. Wherever you are during the winter break, find and attend at least one networking event or a holiday party as informal networking opportunities.
This is the season to give back. Volunteer at the Greater Cleveland Food Bank or another organization. If you have the time, make an ongoing commitment throughout the year to volunteer. This will broaden your connections in the city. Networking is not easy for everyone, especially when it feels forced. Volunteering allows you to connect with someone passionate about the same cause while also strengthening your network. The people you meet may not be offering you a job but they are opening your network to others you may have never met. Fast Company recently posted an article about volunteer work for purposeful networking. It is a quick and good read – found here.
• Set 1-2 networking goals a week
• Find a networking event to attend
• Volunteer at a nonprofit organization