Those four years of college fun fly by quicker than most of us anticipate. The end of one season of life is just the beginning of the next. For newly graduated professionals, especially those eager to start their career, a strategic approach to networking will open the door to opportunities that may have seemed beyond reach. 

As a recent graduate and new hire at Lou Hammond Group’s Charleston office, I know that the experience can be challenging at times. Take a look at four personal tips on how to network after college, which helped ease this transition period in my life. 

Don’t be afraid to use the shotgun approach.

Some people graduate from college knowing exactly what they want to do and where they want to work. However, most of us (like myself!) have no idea where to start and that is okay. My advice is to cast a wide net. Candidates stand a much better chance of getting an offer when they apply for more positions. College majors are designed to equip you with a wide variety of industry-related skills, so do not be afraid to look at non-traditional roles in your desired field. 

Networking is your friend.

Ask for help and use your connections to collect new contacts in your desired city. Professors, LinkedIn and alumni resources are extremely valuable and can help you establish meaningful connections. Your professors are a great place to start because they know you on a personal level and are more likely to keep in touch on LinkedIn regarding future opportunities. Professors tend to have wide networks themselves, so they can likely introduce you to their personal contacts in the industry of your choice. Also be sure to take advantage of your college’s alumni association, which can assist as you build your resume and keep you informed about career events in the area. This will open further opportunities for you to network and develop as a professional – even if it is just for practice. Your parents’ friends remember what it was like to be young and new to the job world, so they understand what you are going through and want to help.  You never know what connections these people might have, so reaching out and asking for help could establish some important connections. 

Understand that not all industries have the same process for hiring. 

I was constantly comparing my job search to that of everyone around me when I graduated. However, what I did not realize is that every industry has different workloads, structures and hiring practices. It is important to understand the industry you want to work in so that you can set realistic expectations and avoid feeling discouraged.

Be yourself.

I promise it is not cliché when I say this. Interviews can be nerve wracking, so it is often hard to feel comfortable and confident. Always remember that your resume is there to reference when you are not sure what to say and come prepared to discuss situations and roles that reflect your personality and strengths the most.  It is encouraged to add a little anecdote to ease the tension and allow the interviewers to get to know you better, and always be transparent with the company about your knowledge and experience. If you do not know something then be honest and tell the company that you are open, willing and excited to learn. This does not come from reciting your resume, but instead shines when you are being yourself in a way that shows you are professional and poised even when nervous. 

Remember: Trust the process and you will ultimately find a great fit.