When it comes to networking, the answer is always "no" if you never ask. Here are 4 places for recent grads to network without feeling totally awkward about it.

In college, I had many resources at my fingertips to help with the “great job search.” Our our campus career center offered a space where I could meet with advisors who specialized in professional development, and our professors were always available for advice and guidance. I had my peers to share experiences with, and I had alumni who were always willing to reminisce and connect.

In school, I was also subconsciously constantly networking because of the social atmosphere of living and working with my peers 24/7. After graduation, networking got a lot harder.

For one, I was busier. I have a full time job and coming home to look for other career opportunities feels almost like having a second job. I don’t want to scour job sites, write cover letters or fill out applications. I usually just want to unwind after a long day!

Personally, I also became unaccustomed and unsure of how to talk about my career aspirations and my current situation. I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted or how to look for jobs based on a few things I thought I might be interested in. It can be hard to put a name to the job you imagine for yourself, and it can be even harder to try to vocalize what you think you want, and why you’re the right person for the job.

READ MORE  How To Make Sure Your News Isn’t Just From Your Newsfeed

What I’ve realized is that for the most part, the resources I had in college are still here, and if anything, they’ve only expanded. Now, I have a whole new network of coworkers of past and present, as well as friends of friends.

It’s interesting to meet people who around my age and ask them 1) what they’re doing 2) how they got there and 3) what they’ve imagined for themselves long-term.

I’ve found that while we may have different interests, our paths tend to be pretty similar. For the most part, people don’t know exactly what they want to do, especially not first thing out of college. It takes a lot of trial and some error. We cannot be afraid to fail, because really, choosing a job or career path that doesn’t end up working out isn’t failure. But not choosing to try something new or out of the ordinary out of fear is failure.

Where To Look

If you’re wondering what resources you have at hand, step outside the box! While you can still count on your college career center and alumni network, don’t forget how times have changed. LinkedIn is a great resource and it’s an easy way to see who you know, where they work, and what they are doing.

READ MORE  Why a gap year is more like "real life" than you think

The hard part isn’t finding the people, it’s finding the courage to reach out. Yes, it can be terrifying to reach it to someone you don’t know or haven’t spoken to in a while, but for the most part, people are pretty willing to help. Maybe they never answer you back, but that’s okay too. The answer is always no until you ask and you miss 100 percent of the opportunities if you never try.

If you’re not on LinkedIn but you follow different bloggers, send them an email! Cold emails may go unanswered, but that doesn’t meant they’re unwelcome. Perhaps the person you’re reaching out to isn’t able to help, but I bet they appreciate the time you took to express interest in their craft and reach out for help.

You can also email friends and family. I hadn’t thought of this at first, but a friend of my brother pulled me aside one day and said, “Marina! You should have emailed me. My company has openings and I’m happy to see if anything might be a good fit.”

Sometimes, all it takes is a few words saying, “I’m looking to make a career change and would love any advice. If you know of anyone who has job openings, I’d appreciate it if you kept me in mind.” Sometimes, our closest and most normal resources (social media, family, friends) can be what helps us the most.

READ MORE  Who to make friends with in the office

So if you are looking to change careers, move to a new city, or just find a new opportunity, don’t stress. The importance of networking has remained the same. Reach out. Open yourself up to new opportunities. Don’t get discouraged, and be patient. This can be a long process, but you never know what opportunity might arise, and it just might be one that changes everything.