There are many important advantages that attending classes online has over traditional college, especially for working adults with busy schedules. But if you’re worried about a lack of networking and cultivating relationships, think again. Today’s networking is far from exclusively in-person. Meaningful connections and job opportunities often come from relationships developed online.
Still not sure how to create lasting connections as an online student? Check out these five tips to effectively network with other adult professional online students, your peers and industry leaders.
Utilize LinkedIn to its full potential
Building a strong LinkedIn profile is critical. Experts agree that having an effective and up-to-date LinkedIn profile is a vital part to creating those lasting connections while you’re in your program. Once you’ve updated your profile, make sure to connect with your classmates and ensure that your profile includes all relevant professional experience. Also consider joining LinkedIn groups and discussions relevant to your university or your field of study.
Use your existing network to your advantage
Regardless of your background, everyone has a network of pre-existing connections. This web of connections that you have probably already includes old friends, former and current coworkers, or professionals you met at a conference. Once you’re in an online course or program with other adult professionals, be sure to invite them to connect professionally as well. In addition to creating these new contacts, reach out to your already existing network. You never know who someone knows and who could be the one to do the crucial first step of introductions that could lead to your next career path.
Always be on the lookout for new opportunities
Ensuring that you’re proactive in seeking out new opportunities and connections is a key part of networking as an online student. Look for conferences that are relevant to your industry, volunteer with local industry events, or even consider creating an online community group for students just like you. You’re likely already using online conferencing tools to do group projects or create study groups in your online courses. Be sure to use those tools as well as social media to connect with your new classmates.
Stay connected with campus post-graduation
One of the best things you can do for your professional networking post-graduation is joining your alumni association. The UGA Alumni Association has chapters all across the world and there are many benefits to joining. From networking opportunities and connecting to other UGA graduates to professional development workshops and career building tools, your alumni association wants you to succeed. Staying involved and connected also gives you the opportunity to give back to the school and community that you graduated from and help pass the torch along to the next generation. Video: Tips to stay connected as an Alum
Create an easily accessible personal website/portfolio
Starting your own website to act as a portfolio of work is a great piece to send out to new connections or potential employers. This can be used to showcase the work you did in your degree program and outside work, as well. Include a short biography of yourself, a digital copy of your resume, and contact information.
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