Don’t Wait Until College To Start Networking Online
High school students will learn to do many things after they start college. But before they enroll in their first college courses they can begin their career exploration by networking online.
Networking online is not only important for finding internships and jobs. It is also a way that students can maintain contacts with professionals to seek advice and resources to succeed in school. Many people who have advanced in their careers and interests are quite willing to “give back” to students. They were young once, too, and would have appreciated the help, had a social media channel been available to them.
What are the first steps that high school students can take to start networking online?
- Open a LinkedIn Account. It’s free, and it opens access to a wide range of potential contacts. It’s the easiest way to connect with alumni of your high school or college as well as any volunteer and social organizations where you are active. You might not have a long resume to post. But you will have the opportunity to post your career interests, participate in forums and receive articles, among other information.
- Subscribe to student-focused professional newsletters that you can receive for free. Poets and Quants for Undergrads, targeted to business students, is a good example. So is Wall Street Oasis for budding investment bankers. We See Genius is an interesting site for prospective social entrepreneurs. The authors of these articles, and their subjects, might be resources for later.
- Join college communities that extend across many campuses. Hillel International, as one example, has a Facebook page that has over 100,000 ‘likes,” and brings Jewish students together online. Many communities are organized around academic and personal interests. The friends that you make online could be part of a network that will be there for you in and after college.
- If you want to let people know about your special talents, the arts, for instance, build and continually update a personal Web site. You can also post photos or videos on YouTube, Etsy, Pinterest or Instagram, among other sites. The same is true for active writers. Start your own blog in your own voice. But if you want to blog, blog often to maintain a large audience for networking online.
I have never had to teach high school students how to “use the Web” to interact with peers Indeed, some have taught me useful techniques. But adults with the power to help, hire or recommend become a more important audience as they get older.
The best online networking tools are free, and easy to use with patience and practice. The best time to start using them is now.
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