Published on March 29th, 20180
Are your networking skills ready for SAC’s 2018 Conference?
For S-LP and audiology students, networking is a crucial skill for transitioning from student to employed professional. Much of this process is facilitated by online tools, though some more traditional pieces still play essential roles.
At its core, LinkedIn serves as an online version of your resumé for the world to see. If you meet a like-minded professional at a conference or event and want to stay in touch, the best thing you can do is send them a LinkedIn request with a short friendly message. Be sure to keep your profile page clean, up to date and use a professional photo.
Twitter can be a lot of things to a lot of different people. In professional circles, it’s an amazing way to rapidly share thoughts and articles with the most relevant audiences of #SLPeeps and #AudPeeps. Follow your colleagues from across the globe to learn from them and see what they’re up to on a daily basis – in 280 characters at a time.
Building your own personal website can seem terrifying, but these days its never been more straightforward. There are many free online services to help you build a landing page for your personal brand. This can be a great way to share a little bit about who you are, links to your accomplishments, and to express longer thoughts you may have without having to commit to a regular blog.
Being active online is great, but you still need a way to make those connections happen when you meet someone in person. That’s why business cards still have a place. Find an eye-catching design, add all of your digital information, and simply write “student” as your current occupation. Pass these out to people you meet and watch the notifications pop up on your phone as people add you post-event.
don’t believe that anyone makes up their mind about a person based entirely on their handshake, but first impressions do matter. So do lasting impressions — and all the impressions in between. Basically, when you’re in any situation where you’re meeting other professionals you want to be at the top of your game. Keep your cell phone in your pocket, make eye contact, ask lots of questions, display friendly body language and, above all, just smile. Be the person that you yourself would want to engage with.
Finally, I believe the single biggest networking tip for students is to just be present and take every opportunity to network that you can get. Is there an event that’s maybe not your specific area of interest? Go anyways! Is there a morning yoga class at the conference, but yoga isn’t really your thing? Try it! Did you get invited to grab a bite to eat with a group of people you don’t know that well? Get to know them! A few moments of feeling awkward or uncomfortable in a new situation is completely normal, but you should never let that deter you from meeting new people and trying new things.
One of the neatest things about networking in the 21st century is that it can go both directions. Sometimes you’ll connect with someone online and then you’ll have a running start when you meet them in person. Other times, a physical introduction can lead to years of staying in touch online. This is especially great for Canadian communication health professionals who cover such a vast area, but are ultimately rather small in numbers and wind up bumping into each other far more than might be expected.
There you have it, from the old-school, analog methods to the newest digital trends, there are more opportunities than ever for students to network with professionals. So whether it’s online or at a conference, I look forward to networking with all of my Canadian S-LP and audiology colleagues somewhere down the line!
Remington Shandro is an audiology student at Dalhousie University in Halifax, having previously received a B.Sc. in psychology at the University of Alberta, with a minor in linguistics. He is the current Director-Student on SAC’s Board of Directors.