Networking is more than sending a lot of emails and giving out numbers. It is about building long-lasting relationships and connections that can serve you well for the rest of your life. There is an abundance of great things that we are doing as teens, but there are also so many amazing professional and development spaces that we may not be aware of. Here are some successful steps I am using to help maintain and grow my personal, educational, and professional network. The steps that I am using are going to assist me with building a strong foundation for future college acceptances, job opportunities, and internships.
LinkedIn is a free professional employment-oriented online service that can be used via websites and their mobile app. It is honestly like an Instagram 2.1 but can be used to post more of your professional accomplishments, network with valuable people, and seek internships/job opportunities. It is the perfect platform to create your personal portfolio. The information that you share about yourself is accessible to a variety of individuals who may be looking to hire you or assist you with finding various opportunities. This app can help you find internships and job opportunities as a teen in many fields related to medicine, law, fashion, music, and more.
Many of us teens spend the bulk of our time on social media, but sometimes we don’t want to fill our feed with the work we are doing, but rather use it to post pictures of ourselves and friends. That is completely okay because Linktree is the perfect easily accessible link to throw in your bio. Linktree is a free tool that allows you to house all the content that you’d like to share with the people who are looking at your account. From links to articles that you have written or links to your music, it can all be accessed at the touch of one click. This link can also be copied and sent to people who have the potential to assist you with acquiring applications for internships, gaining supporters, and networking with people in your field.
3. Personal Website
Personal websites can be a designated place for people to visualize your resume. On your website, you can design and set it up however you’d like with sections such as leadership, community involvement, and accolades. You can even have sections where you show plenty of pictures of things you’ve accomplished because a picture is worth a million words. There are many websites that you can use such as Adobe Spark and Web.com. If you are looking for a free website, I have found Wix.com to be really successful for a variety of users.
4. Building and Growing Your Resume
A resume is a document created and used by a person to present their background, skills, accomplishments, volunteer experiences, past employment, and/or internships. A resume can be broken into sections such as leadership, education, creative skills, and more. In my personal experience, I’ve learned when applying for a job or internship with a resume, potential employers may not want to read a resume that is longer than a page. With that in mind, I now know that it can be helpful to have a main resume with all of your accomplishments/work, and when you are applying to specific jobs/internships, you should shorten your resume to the specifics of that opportunity. Although it is important to be a well-rounded person, if the opportunity is specific to producing music, it may be beneficial to include more of your leadership work within that specific field. Your resume should be an ongoing document that you are continuously adding onto so that when the time comes for opportunities, you have a range of different resumes to choose from. Many people have found successful ways to set up their resumes through turning to YouTube tutorials and resume building websites that break down how to create an excellent resume.
5. Making Your Instagram “Your Brand”
Your Instagram can really be your brand because it can be used to showcase the work that you have done such as music production, creating clothing, and your involvement in your community. With social media being incredibly relevant and essential in the 21st century, these various platforms create space for you to interact virtually with many different people. You can create an Instagram account for specific leadership accomplishments or you can create an account that shows both your personal life and the impacts that you are making in the spaces around you. Making your Instagram your brand can take the form of you posting the work that you have done, showing projects in progress, interacting with people in the fields of your interest, or networking with people who inspire you.
6. Your Email
When networking, everyone is not going to provide you with their phone number or personal information. More than likely, they will provide you with their email as the main way for you to communicate and contact them. Your email address should be appropriate, not include any offensive words, and feature your first and last name (you can also include a number). The emails that you send to others can tell a lot about you. It can give insight into how professional you are when applying or networking for different employment/internship opportunities. When you start to make these connections, you should maintain them. Regularly emailing the different connections that you have made once a month or every other month as check-in is highly advised. It is important to nurture these connections for opportunities and personal growth. This can also be beneficial so that the people that you make connections with are able to remember you not as someone who reached out to them once, but as a person who continuously communicated with them. Each network or connection will not be maintained in the exact same way, therefore it is up to you to decide how you sustain each relationship.
The steps that have been provided do not determine the automatic success or an easy path to gaining opportunities. Within my personal life, the tips that I listed have assisted with me finding opportunities as a teenager who aims to be in professional and impactful environments. There are plenty of other things that you can be doing to help grow your network as well and they should not be limited to the six things that I have listed. This article serves as a good starting point if you are finding yourself getting interested in creating your own platform, tips around networking, and/or developing a portfolio that showcases your range of talents. In the words of MiShaat, “networking is not collecting contacts, networking is about planting relations.”