Incoming Freshmen Series: How to Stop Networking Like a Freshman
In high school, I was a superstar. Not to brag, but the awful high school experience many were glad to escape by entering college wasn’t one I experienced. I was elected homecoming king, served as senior class president, and did well academically. I had more friends than I could count, a successful part-time job, and at one time, I considered going to college closer to home so I can continue my social, economic, and all-around success.
But I didn’t. Because I knew that college was different from high school. I could still pursue the activities I loved – like student government – but the roles and responsibilities were different. My college was 10x larger than my high school, which still boasted a respectable 5000 kids. In no way would I know 20% of the University of Florida like I knew 20% of my high school.
And with that, the environment changed. There was no Smokey Bones in Gainesville, so I had to start looking for work, and work that would actually benefit me instead of just a paycheck. I was building the resume for my life now – not just one to turn in for an assignment. Below the jump are some tips to help make the transition from networking with friends and colleagues in high school to networking for life in college.
Free your mind. En Vogue said it best, the rest will follow. Just because you’ve never been interested in student government or scuba diving or acting for fun doesn’t mean college isn’t a good place to start. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good, and make sure to allow yourself to find new sources of enjoyment.
If you love it, commit. Student government in high school makes t-shirts. Student government in college controls a multi-million dollar budget, deals heavily with a state’s legislature, and can bring large acts in music and comedy to a campus. This is true of theatre, religious and cultural organizations, and just about everything. Welcome to the majors, rookie.
Begin with the end in mind. When it comes to involvement and meeting people, making goals can be the difference between success and failure. If you want to be a starter on a club sports team, think of that as a backbencher. If you want to be Student Body President, do what it takes to be Student Body President.
Don’t be weird. I’m a pretty outgoing guy, but this is my number one rule. No one hangs out with weird people. No one gives a job to a weird person. Meet people who want to meet you, and meet them when they’re comfortable. Otherwise it’ll just be a bad impression and a missed connection.
That said, don’t be scared. College is one of the few places where a Facebook friend request, Twitter follower, or cell phone number is completely acceptable to get nearly immediately. It helps to have friends, and many people are out there looking for the exact same thing – be it friends, involvement, or anything else of the sort.
In closing, it’s been a pleasure providing this information for the Class of 2015 all week, and I hope my advice takes hold. Feel free to make a mistake every now and then – don’t try to make your freshman year fly, and enjoy these next 4 years – the best of your life!