Networking: what could senior students and graduates recommend to first years?

Find a marketing specialist to chat with. Find two professionals you could discuss your business idea with. Chat with a PR specialist from the company you’re interested in. Does any of this sound familiar?

Most likely it does, as studying at Hanze does involve quite a lot of – that beautiful buzzword – networking. You’ve heard this word being thrown around a lot, this idea associated with getting to know the right people or, more specifically, meeting the people that will help you advance in your career. Sounds quite enticing, at first glance.
Yet, having to find a specific professional or two in just a week (and risking handing in your assignment worth a third of your block credits too late), could quickly turn the enticement into stress

Especially when it happens repeatedly for a couple of blocks: from ‘I might get an internship chance with this!’ to ‘Oh, my gosh, not again!’

Ukrainian student in Groningen
Anita, graduate in Marketing Management

How to avoid this demotivating process? A quick answer would relate to something like motivation or remembering the feeling you had when you acquired a new contact, interesting information or an amazing opportunity. A more profound, practical answer would be to make the process of networking easier, what could senior students and graduates recommend to first years?

Here are some tips from recent Hanze graduates:

Anita, a recent Marketing graduate currently working as a Product Owner at Adidas, notes that it’s important to start with the attitude: ‘Don’t be afraid. It’s better to try to get to know people and to ask questions rather than not doing so at all. When you ask questions, you at least have a chance to learn something new.

Tip number one: don’t be afraid and don’t worry about other people’s opinions

Another tip from experience, says Anita, is to find yourself a mentor: ‘There are many different platforms for this in The Netherlands, such as Marketing Mentors or The Mentoring Club. It’s very helpful to sign up at one of these. You’ll be assigned to a mentor, get to know other mentors and you’ll have even more networking chances among professionals from your field.

Don’t be afraid to search LinkedIn for interesting people and to write to them

So, to summarize, tip number two: use platforms which give you the chance to get to know people. Make sure to use these platforms correctly and not to blow it all off.’

Ukrainian students in the Netherlands
Anastasia, graduate in International Communication

Anastasia, a recent International Communication graduate, agrees. ‘I would recommend starting early and turning networking into a constant practice, not to be used just for finding an internship or a job. Enjoy the chats. Afterwards, don’t forget to drop a LinkedIn invitation!’ About getting to know people, she says: ‘A great way to start a conversation is to ask for feedback. For instance, ask what someone thinks of CV or a product you made.’

Unleash your curiosity

Unleash your curiosity and ask what a professional in the field thinks about it. You will not only get a chance to improve but also an opportunity to create a new connection!
Indy, an International Communication student approaching her third year, dives deeper into ways of finding new contacts organically. ‘The first tip, which is my absolute favourite, is to say yes to everything! Say yes to every opportunity that comes your way since you can always change your mind halfway through or just before going to the event. I did this for a few months, and I ended up joining so many activities, workshops and lectures. It turned out to be a really great way of meeting new, like-minded people.’
Another way to meet new people that was instrumental to Indy was by joining study associations

Join a study association, or just any kind of association!

Whether it’s an association from your faculty like Kien In Communicatie, which is for all the School of Communication, Media and IT students at Hanze or if it’s another study association like The Erasmus Student Network. There’s a bunch here in Groningen! It’s a great way of networking and just making very good connections.’

Surely, the list of tips here is not exhaustive, but it’s a great place to start improving your skills, allowing you to have a far easier time networking while studying. Good luck!