The college networking strat that absolutely eats

Exploit it, bro

The college networking strat that absolutely eats
Exploit it, bro

Most students are terrified of the recommendations in this post. That's why they're recommended. Doing things that scare most people is a surefire way to stand out and get ahead.

The earlier you discover the power of a strong professional network, the earlier your career enters the stratosphere. As a student, you are in the strongest position to grow your network known to modern science. Why? Everyone loves helping college kids.

To the outside world, college kids are naive, adorable little creatures who play "TikTok" and eat Tide Pods. Adults can't help but give you guidance. For the overworked professional, the chance to help out a student can be a refreshing break in their monotonous day.

This is in stark contrast to everyone else who tries to get the attention of the full-time professional. Spammers, scammers, sales folk. The average cyber manager is drenched in requests for their attention. Startups looking for partners, big companies looking to win contracts, Steve from accounting, the list goes on. Cyber managers despise this. In general, these types of attention grabbers are extremely annoying.

But college students? Harmless. Simply because you're not selling anything! I point this out because almost every student who hears this message is surprised or doubtful. They think reaching out to strangers is annoying, demanding, rude. Sigh... I get it, but no. When done respectfully, it's exactly the opposite.

Every non-asshole* in cyber is genuinely excited to help college students. That doesn't mean they're gonna have all the answers, or that they're going to respond to all your messages, or that they're going to reply in a timely fashion. But it does mean they are NOT offended that you reached out. Respectful communication is respectful.

So what to do? Send out a ton of LinkedIn connection requests and cold emails. It's that simple. Your four years in college are a golden opportunity to grow your network. You're never going to have an easier time in your entire life getting people to share their wisdom with you. Don't pass it up.

Send out cold messages that get interesting people on the phone. Who counts as interesting? Anyone doing things you're interested in. Use cold messages to:

  • Learn about internships
  • Talk to recruiters
  • Practice pitching yourself
  • Understand the industry better
  • Refine your career goals
  • Validate if you're a good fit for a particular role
  • Learn about individual company cultures
  • Understand the recruiting process for your dream jobs
  • Connect with school alumni who love to give back

You're going to learn more in a 30 minute call with an expert in the field than you ever could by anxiously spiraling in your head or talking with your kind but clueless relatives.

Don't know how to craft a cold message? Here's are two excellent examples. Because most folks are terrified of it, most folks suck at it. Follow these templates and you'll blow people away with your maturity and thoughtfulness.

LinkedIn connection request:

Always, always, always "add a note" to your connection requests

Cold email:

Why do these work so well?

  • Respectful tone
  • Short and clear
  • Catchy subject line
  • Direct, thoughtful questions
  • Specific times in their timezone (this is SO underrated)
  • Your phone number

This template waves goodbye to the back-and-forth scramble of settling on a time and then realizing neither of you have the other's phone number at the last minute. A busy professional only has to send one message: "Sure, let's chat Thursday at 9" and boom, you've just grown your network.

Recognize your power as a harmless, eager-to-learn student. Be confident and respectful. Help them help you. Eat up.