Nothing can help you find a job or advance your career more quickly than having a strong professional network. Which is why it only makes sense to start building your network while you’re completing your degree. There’s nothing like a group of people you can rely on for job leads, advice, and support. Let’s look at other benefits of building a strong network, and some tips on how to do it right.

Find better jobs

Your network will be instrumental in finding a better job. Building in-person relationships with people can open a lot of doors. While most college graduates spend most of their time searching for a job online, “at least 70%, if not 80%, of jobs, are not published,” points out Matt Youngquist, the president of Career Horizons. The more connections you have, the more chance you’ll have to hear about those “unpublished jobs.” Networking is also a powerful resource for expanding knowledge and expertise, according to knowledge-networking company, Editorial Intelligence.

Start small

Begin your network from the ground up - focusing on the few people who know you best – co-workers, other students, professors, etc. Then, expand slowly. Talk to people. Collect names and numbers. Most Mississippi colleges have on-campus networking groups. By keeping your initial network small, it allows you to cultivate deeper relationships. It’s better to develop a few quality relationships than a lot of shallow, surface contacts. Talk to your network on a regular basis. Check-in with them and ask them for advice. Often several members of your initial network will go on to become lifelong contacts, even friends.

The power of face time

In-person meetings have a much greater impact on building relationships. According to GreatBusinessSchools.org, almost 95% of survey respondents say that face-to-face meetings are “essential for long-term business relationships.” There are many reasons that in-person networking is the most effective. First, it allows you to show your personality, as well as seeing the personality of the other person. You’ll rarely start a lifelong business relationship online. Being there also allows you to read the other person’s body language – are they confident? Do they “feel” like they want to engage with you? Most of all, humans require human interaction. For many adults returning to college, a few hours spent with colleagues and fellow students can be invigorating – especially if you are studying online or spending all your time at work or with family.

Be patient and help others

Don’t expect someone you just met to give you a lead on the job of a lifetime. These things take time. You’re building long-term relationships. It often helps to offer them your help first. As you build your network, look out for ways you can help others by contributing to their business, project or schoolwork. This helps them view you as a resource and might put them in the valuable position of “owing you one.” Plus, it can simply be rewarding to help someone else.

Add C2C to your network

The only thing more important than networking is completing your college degree. Complete 2 Compete is a great place to start both. C2C helps Mississippi adults identify the clearest pathway to completing their degree. They also provide the support of a C2C coach – who will help guide you through the process of earning your degree. Your C2C coach can also help connect you with valuable network contacts when you head out with your new degree. Contact C2C when you’re ready to make the most important connection of your life.