Studying costs a lot, both in time and money.
You study hard in order to get a great job, so why is it most people forget to prepare themselves for work while they’re still on campus?
Many of us realize after we stop studying that it was the best possible venue for networking in their field. Then it’s too late to go back and do it right.
Now, Facebook is currently one of the best networking tools around. If you mix Facebook, studying and networking effectively from the very beginning, you’ll have a big headstart on your peers.
If you’ve missed the boat and already finished your studies, don’t worry too much. You can still use these tricks for a bit of a career-boost, but it will be a little harder to rebuild those networks from scratch.
Keep It Professional
The first thing to do is set up your Facebook profile as if you’re looking for work. Why? Well, in essence, you are. While you’re at college or university, you’re busy meeting people you will befriend and network with for the rest of your career. You know, the career in that field you’re paying to study. So, it’s pretty vital to show these people your most professional side. Sure, some people will become good friends, but the rest of them are professional contacts. Treat them this way from the very start.
As part of your efforts to maintain a professional profile for your contacts from college, you should definitely set up a friends list for “Professional Contacts” on Facebook that you can use to filter out from the less-professional status updates you may make. But also, you should set up a list for your educational institution so that when you want to check in on what your old college friends are up to, they’re all there in the one list ready to read. If you’re really good, you’ll check in on this feed semi-regularly for the rest of your life and make helpful comments where possible. If you can help some of your contacts to get work, all the better.
To set this up, click on “Friends” from your home page in Facebook. Then choose “Create List”. Later you can use this list in custom privacy settings throughout the site.
Group Building: Business Networks
Even better than building a list of the contacts you make while studying is to build a group or two for the broader field you’re interested in. For instance, you could start “Tech Journalists” as a global network, and perhaps “San Francisco Tech Journalists” for a more local network you might be able to meet in person on occasion. Invite all of your contacts in the same course as you (and the professors) while you’re still studying, then let the groups build naturally over time, with a bit of nurturing from you to make your group stand out. Read up on how to be a good group admin. By the time you finish your studies, you will have created a great network of professional contacts that you can all make use of. You should also join other groups of professionals in your field. It’s never too early to get connected.
Group Building: Study Groups
In particular, another sort of group to set up would be specifically to help you to get through certain subjects. Even when you know other people in your course, you may find it difficult to ask for their help at midnight before an assignment is due. If you’ve got everyone in the class in a Facebook group for the subject, you might be able to get a helping hand simply by asking a quick question to the group. In fact, you’ll probably all benefit from being able to get immediate answers, and getting answers to other people’s questions.
Group Building: Social Groups
If you love board games, tennis, swimming or eating exotic food once a week, find a handful of friends who want to meet up regularly and start a Facebook group to keep you all connected. Let the group evolve to include their friends, and friends-of-friends until you’ve got a huge network of people who love to do the same things as you. This may seem like overkill, but the group gains momentum with numbers, so eventually you won’t need to be the person doing all the organising. Also, if you’re the person organising each time, you may not know how to get in touch with that awesome friend-of-a-friend who showed up one time. If they joined the group, however, they’ll always get invited to the next event. Here are some other ideas for great groups to set up. In the end, because you’re friends with these people socially, they will become strong contacts in your professional network.
A Facebook Page For Your Side-Hustle
If you’ve planned well, you might be building a business on the side while you study. If you’re making a bit of money through fixing computers or designing websites, you really want to make sure you’re promoting it to your college friends. Craft a name that’s flexible enough to bend to any consulting and creative work you might take on later and you’re essentially building a brand for yourself early in the game. Go a step further and make yourself a business card that features both your own personal Facebook profile and your Facebook page, with LinkedIn and any blog or business website you run.
Pages For Projects
When you start doing interesting project work that may lead to something down the track, consider starting a page for that project. Not only can you document relevant articles to your research and how your project is coming along, but you can build a following of people interested in that research and your outcomes. If you’ve collaborated on the project, the page will help to show the professor who has been active throughout, plus you might find a way to work with these collaborators on this project indefinitely.
On Facebook, interest lists are a lot like friends lists, but you can use them to group Facebook pages together. While you’re studying, see if you can build interest lists for each of the main areas of your profession. Whenever you’re reading academic papers, see if you can find the Facebook pages of the authors or organisations behind them. Keep adding these pages to the relevant interest lists so that you can build an easy-to-check list of authorities in your field. And better still, check them regularly to see what they’re working on. Help them out where possible and really take an interest in them. You’ll find that you pick up valuable insights into your industry, as well as perhaps making some very influential friends along the way.
To set up an Interest list, click on “Interests” in the sidebar of your home page in Facebook, followed by “Add Interests”. You’ll be able to choose a selection of pages to add immediately. While you’re there, consider following some public interest lists curated by other people.
Build A Facebook Application
Is there something you could code to really help out your fellow students? If you can build a Facebook app to fix that problem, you’re not only going to help out lots of people and make a name for yourself, but that’s something fantastic to put on your resume, even if your profession doesn’t rely on coding. You’ll never have a better opportunity to find a problem to solve, and heavily-connected receptive users to try your app, than while you’re studying.
How Else Can Facebook Help Your Career?
There are so many useful things you can do on Facebook while you’re studying. In what useful ways did you use Facebook in college?