learning how to network in high school
Posted : July 31, 2014
Last Updated : June 30, 2016
For occupational purposes, Merriam Webster defines networking as the cultivation of productive relationships for employment. Learning how to properly network is a skill that will immensely benefit your future career. You may think that you don’t need to develop professional contacts until you have graduated from college and begin searching for a job. However, the earlier you learn how to network and begin the networking process, the greater your networking circle will be and the more employment options you may have. Use these suggestions to learn how to network in high school.
Expand your social circle. High school students are notorious for staying within their own clique of friends. However, in order to network properly in the future, you will need to learn how to approach strangers. Try sitting with different groups of people during lunch to get to know them better. Strike up a conversation with that shy student in your math class. Try out for a sports team or join a club to meet new people. Now and in the future, the more people you know, the better chances you will have to find employment.
Be nice to everyone. Likeability is a huge factor in the hiring process, so it's imperative that you learn how to project a pleasant, helpful, and positive persona. In high school, you should hone this persona by being nice to all of your classmates. Lend a helpful hand to others when needed, avoid bully-type behavior, and smile at your peers as you pass in the hallways. Portraying this type of behavior will make you a more likeable person among your classmates (as you never know which of your peers may be able to assist with your career in the future) and will help prepare you for networking in the professional world.
Become involved in activities outside of high school. Students often forget that life exists outside of high school. Even though you have a busy school schedule, try to make time for activities outside of school in order to expand your horizons and increase the number of people that you meet on an everyday basis. Consider volunteering at a homeless or animal shelter, becoming involved in community sporting activities, joining a church youth group, etc. Try to remember this tip when you begin your career as well. Adults often become so immersed in their work and company culture that they forget that there is a whole world of professional networks to tap into.
Obtain a part-time job or internship. For high school students, the value of a part-time job or internship is tremendous, both in terms of acquiring essential skills and developing professional contacts. If you make good impressions working at your part-time jobs or internships, employers may keep you in mind for future full-time positions after you complete your education. Never leave a job or internship on bad terms, and try to keep in touch with co-workers and supervisors along the way in order to keep that networking dialogue open.
Use parents as resources. Your parents and the parents of your friends have years of networking experience, so be sure to ask for their guidance. They should be more than willing to share their expertise with you and maybe even their contacts. By asking questions and tapping into their knowledge base during high school, you should be thoroughly prepared for professional networking and have a substantial contact list by the time college graduation rolls around.
Create a LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is a career-based social networking site. As a high school student, you should create a LinkedIn account to become familiar with the site and begin building an online professional contact list. It's also an easy way to keep track of all of your accomplishments. Your profile should include a professional picture and details of your educational experience, internships, part-time jobs, volunteer work, and honors/awards. Connect with anyone that you have ever met, such as your classmates, teachers, coaches, mentors, co-workers, etc. Join any networking groups that may help you along the way, such as school groups or specific city/county groups.
Networking is the key to staying connected and aware of job opportunities. Learning how to network early in life will only benefit your career and open more doors for you through the years.