Time and time again, we hear how important it is to network. We know that the people we meet, from our coworkers, to classmates, to friends and family, are the one’s who will help us develop professionally in the future. But what about those who live half way around the world? Is there a point to connect with people who you may never see again? Yes, there is!
Don’t always think about the immediate and tangible effects, such as a investment funding or a job referral, think about the lasting effects your relationships will create; the laughs you share, the unforgettable memories, and the exposure to all the different worldly perspectives. So here are 5 best tips to network for international students.
- It’s never too late to throw yourself into campus life. There is no better way to practice English and make friends. If there are organizations on campus related to your major, become involved as soon as possible to build networking contacts and references.
- Take advantage of all networking opportunities, including those provided by professional organizations, social networking, and your university. You may need to come out of your comfort zone, so take it slowly at first. Start with engaging more with your American classmates.
- Americans are more comfortable with people who are friendly and speak up more than with people who remain quiet. Don’t worry that you may make a mistake in English grammar or vocabulary. Americans understand that English is your second language, and most will be impressed that you are bi-lingual. Speak slowly and clearly. Look at the person’s face to see if they are showing understanding. If not, repeat your message using different words and/or by speaking even more slowly and clearly. Ask your American friends to help you judge if you are speaking slowly and clearly enough.
- Build references starting with your professors and other faculty on campus. Even if you don’t have an amazing GPA, you can impress them by your work ethic and commitment to your field of study.
- Develop your value statement (“elevator pitch”) so that you will have something prepared and practiced when you meet people who are in a position to help you in your job search. Watch the following short video: “An International Student Prepares and Practices Her Elevator Pitch” to gain a better understanding.