blog postsNetworking: the power of building professional connectionsJul 10, 2017 1:45 pm by Emily ForbesShare on FacebookTweetEmailPictured: Amanda Purnell, Emily Forbes, Dr. Kirsten BartelsImagesThe best advice I received coming to the University of Illinois was to network. My parents, high-school teachers, and older peers all encouraged me to do so, so when I got to Illinois my freshman year, I jumped right in. Connections with other students, professors, teaching assistants (TAs), and academic advisors afforded me more opportunities than my grades or honors societies could have done – and I met some really great people in the process. Here are three tips for expanding your network while at Illinois. 1. Show up For those who are not as eager as I was, creating connections with your peers is a great way to get in the swing of networking. Not only are you likely to make a few new friends, but they will introduce you to new clubs, events, and circles on campus that you may have never come across without their invitation. I met most of my peers in class and through honors societies. The best way to make those peer connections? For me, it was just to show up. You don’t have to come in knowing everything at the first study group or Registered Student Organization (RSO) meeting you decide to go to – just be there. Say something. By doing that, you are putting yourself in a much better position to make possible connections than everyone else that decided to stay on the couch and indulge in Netflix instead. Find something you like doing – maybe something related to a future dream career – and carve out the time to be there. 2. Connect with professors and advisors Making connections and even friendships with my professors, TAs, and advisors was key for ensuring that I had a good safety net to fall into when I faced challenges here at Illinois. They provided me with both academic and emotional support, and my time here would have been drastically different if I didn’t make the effort to get to know a few of my favorite professors and advisors. I went the traditional route for making these types of connections: showing up to office hours with questions about academic work or personal/professional interests; sending cold emails asking for meetings to discuss opportunities for research or interning on campus; or talking to my professors before or after class. Professors are usually really cool people – they have deep, thought-provoking, varying interests and they chose this profession because they are passionate about their work and enjoy helping students on their personal journeys, as well. 3. Seek alumni connections Toward the end of my college career, I was also focused on making connections with LAS alumni and employers. To do this, I made sure to work with organizations on campus that make it easier for current students to connect with alumni: making sure to attend career fairs on campus; participating in networking nights within my major, and going to other campus events highlighting professional paths and opportunities for entry into your dream field! Get out there. Networking is a great way to meet new people and put yourself in a position for academic and professional success. The College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers more than 70 majors and provides a world-class interdisciplinary education that prepares students for lives of impact. Learn more about LAS.