How to Encourage Networking Among Student Employees

By Julia Dunn on November 13, 2017

Do you ever wish your student employees were closer, sharing knowledge and best practices with each other for the collective well-being of your organization? A tight-knit team can do wonders for your company’s productivity, efficiency, and happiness.

In certain jobs that aren’t inherently collaborative (perhaps more shift-based, like food service), your student employees may not have as many opportunities to network with others, bond, and find support.

Here are three ways to encourage students to network with each other in the workplace (and create opportunities for them to do so).

1. Hold more workshops or training on the importance of networking

Your student employees may not be actively networking with one another because they don’t know much about networking or what it can do for their professional lives. Alternatively, they may not feel they have the proper tools to network effectively. The more you promote the practice of networking, the higher the chances it will actually happen.

What can networking look like for students?

At its simplest, it’s a conversation. Student employees who may have worked for you longer than others may be able to share tips and advice with newer employees, which creates a stronger company culture (and helps get new folks up to speed). Furthermore, these conversations can open up doors for your students to learn more about how to succeed in their respective positions, and the connections your employees make with one another can reinforce a sense of community or teamwork in the organization.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Networking among student employees can also help new professionals gain more work references, LinkedIn connections, and mentors.

According to Business Insider, “Many individuals lacking a professional network risk limiting their experiences in continued learning. Your network is likely to provide you with an outlet for discovery which you might not otherwise have had access to.”

One more connection can seem insignificant, but you never know when you’ll need that person’s help.

2. Increase the frequency of company outings and events

A happier staff is a faster, focused, and more friendly staff! One of the best ways to facilitate networking among student employees is to hold more company outings and events for your student staff to attend. By spending more recreational or informal time with one another, students will naturally ask more questions about one another and learn about their fellow staff.

As advised  in this article from The Muse, “when there are company events (e.g., potlucks, sponsored meals, or after-work events), encourage your leaders-in-training to go — and more importantly, to branch out beyond conversations with the co-workers they already know.”

Why encourage networking?

For one, networking with coworkers can increase the strength of your employee base. This means you can get a lot more accomplished in a shorter amount of time because everyone will feel equipped with the guidance and resources needed to excel. Additionally, networking helps student staff remain engaged with their work, namely because they’ll be talking about their positions more frequently and thus refreshing themselves on their goals and achievements in the role.

Student employees who network with one another may also learn more about other open positions in your organization. This can be helpful if you’re trying to fill a new position internally and need a means of determining who is interested in being considered.

3. Invite your staff to industry-wide and community-wide networking events

While you may not be able to do this often, inviting student staff to larger networking events outside of your company alone can promote networking on a much grander scale. Students can strike up conversations with others in the field and ask questions about how they got to where they are in their careers.

At the same time, students will inherently develop their own sense of pride for their organization and enhance their extemporaneous speaking skills (such as introducing themselves as a representative of your company and describing their position in detail). They will cultivate an “elevator speech” that can spread the word about your company’s work, which benefits you as an employer at the same time!

As stated in MichaelPage.com’s piece “Six ways networking can benefit your career,” “Networking is about sharing, not taking. It is about forming trust and helping one another toward goals. Regularly engaging with your contacts and finding opportunities to assist them helps to strengthen the relationship. By doing this, you sow the seeds for reciprocal assistance when you need help to achieve your goals.”

For students, networking is a critical component of career-building. Many students have not yet entered an environment where networking could be useful, and employers can play a large role in demonstrating why networking is essential in modern workplaces.

A staff who networks with each other will be a staff that is more likely to ask each other for support when needed. As a recruiter, you will see a visible difference in your staff the more they connect with one another on a personal and professional basis. There’s no reason not to promote workplace networking; the benefits are lasting.

By Julia Dunn

Uloop Writer
UC Santa Cruz
I am a graduate student in the Creative Writing MFA program at San Jose State University. I specialize in creative nonfiction writing and poetry, as well as composition studies.

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