Building a Global Network: Top Networking Strategies for International Students to Forge Lasting ConnectionsJuly 7th, 2023 by IEFA
Strong networking connections can open up incredible opportunities for international students for internships, future jobs and academic advancement.
Making these connections can be more challenging than it seems as you navigate an unfamiliar environment in a new country.
From language barriers to unfamiliar faces, creating meaningful connections can seem overwhelming, but with some insider tips and proven strategies, it’s possible!
Let’s explore some of the top networking strategies for international students.
The Importance of Networking for International Students
First, let’s take a look at why it is so important for international students to build long-lasting networks:
1. Access to jobs and internships
Building strong networks can help you discover job and internship opportunities you might not find otherwise.
Your new connections can share insider info, give you referrals, and help you better understand different industries.
2. Cultural exchange and understanding
Connecting with people from diverse backgrounds helps you gain insight into different traditions, perspectives and cultures. In addition, if you get a job in a different country – having a network of friends who are familiar with the local customs and culture can help you feel more at ease in your new home.
3. Personal and professional development
Interacting with a variety of individuals allows you to learn from their experiences, pick up new skills, and expand your knowledge in your field of study.
Plus, these connections can lead to collaborations and partnerships that can further enhance your career prospects.
4. Mentorship and career guidance
Connecting with experienced professionals in your field can lead to valuable mentorships. Mentors can offer personalized advice and guidance, help you navigate your academic and professional journey more effectively, and open doors to new opportunities.
5. Support system
Building a network of supportive people can ease your transition to your new school in a new country.
6. Long-lasting friendships
Networking can lead to lifelong friendships. As you get to know each other more, connect over shared interests or hobbies, and support each other’s endeavors – these relationships help you professionally and add value to your personal life.
Top 10 Ways to Network as an International Student
Now that you understand the importance of networking, let’s look at 10 key strategies you can use to build meaningful and lasting connections:
1. Prepare yourself
Don’t just jump into a conversation with someone randomly. Take some time to prepare yourself – think about what you want to talk about and practice your conversation skills.
If you are planning to join a club or organization, it’s even more important to be well-prepared.
Plan ahead of time and try to have a few conversation starters ready. You can also write an outline of what you are going to talk about and do some research to familiarize yourself with the group or organization.
If you take your time to plan and practice, you will be able to make a positive impression.
2. Develop a personal story
It’s always a good idea to have a story you can share with the people you meet. This helps you stand out and makes it easier to start a conversation.
For example, if you are at an event for international students, try to focus on talking about your experiences in the country. You could share why you chose to study abroad and how that experience impacted your life.
3. Join clubs, organizations and events
Joining a club or other organization is a great way to meet like-minded people with similar interests. When you find yourself surrounded by people with similar backgrounds, passions, and goals, it’s easier to build relationships.
Find out what clubs, career fairs, or organizations your school has to offer and join the ones related to your field of study. Almost every university or college has some kind of club that caters to international students.
Also attend local events related to your field. This will help you make new connections and is a great way to spend your free time and explore the city.
4. Use social media to your advantage
Social media is great for networking and connecting with people from all over the world. Start by joining and interacting with online professional groups related to your field or interests. You’ll have opportunities to showcase your technical and professional skills through these conversations.
LinkedIn is a popular professional and business networking platform that allows you to create meaningful connections and build relationships with professionals around the world.
Comment on posts, ask questions and share your own experiences – all of these things can help you make connections and build relationships.
5. Be ready to ask and answer questions
Asking questions helps you get to know a person better, and it shows you value them and are interested in what they have to say.
At the same time, be prepared to answer questions about yourself so you can share your experiences and talk about why you chose to study abroad.
By getting to know each other better, you are one step closer to forming a lasting connection.
6. Learn to listen to others
Listening is an art. It takes practice. Active listening means paying attention to what the other person is saying, asking thoughtful questions and reflecting back on your understanding of their words.
This will help you form stronger relationships and strengthen your own communication skills.
7. Follow up after your conversation
Once the conversation is over, follow up with a message or an email. This is an excellent way to show you value the connection and are interested in continuing it in the future.
Take time to research professors, other students or employers. You’ll gain deeper insight into their background and interests, which can then help make the conversation more meaningful.
Start by using social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter to research their profiles.
By taking the initiative to learn more about people, you will make a better impression and form stronger relationships with the people you meet while studying abroad.
9. Be patient
Don’t expect overnight results. Building meaningful relationships requires effort, and it’s important to give them time to grow and develop.
With patience and perseverance, you can create meaningful connections with people from all over the world.
10. Keep it going
Lastly, stay in touch with your network. Whether through a quick email or message once in a while, staying connected can help keep the relationships alive and growing.
At the same time, keep looking for ways to connect and build new relationships – whether by attending networking events or joining online groups related to your field of study.
By continually looking for new networking opportunities, you will be able to form more meaningful connections and build a strong network that can benefit you in the long run.