How Can I Network When Earning My Degree Online?

“It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” In today’s business industry, expertise and knowledge are valued, but so are relationships, and sometimes, relationships matter just as much as your skills. It is important to not only learn everything you can about your chosen industry but also to network and build strong relationships with individuals who can help you advance your career. You can do this while pursuing both on-campus and online degrees. Participate in your courses, reach out to fellow students and take advantage of alumni connections to help you establish positive, meaningful relationships.

Engage with Fellow Students, Faculty and Alumni

When you pursue an online degree, you will have access to a number of professionals in your field, so treat your college career as more than an opportunity to develop old skills and master new ones; it is also an opportunity to form and build valuable relationships. Make an effort to engage with your instructor by introducing yourself on the first day, asking relevant questions throughout the course, participating in class discussions and giving 110 percent on all assignments. Since the courses are online, it is even more important to stand out and ensure your instructor remembers you, and doing so will also increase the chance that he or she will want to maintain a professional relationship at the end of the course.

You can also connect with others through the school’s online alumni network, and most universities have events you can attend either in-person or online. Here, you will speak with faculty members within your field, and you may have the opportunity to get the contact information of alumni who have agreed to speak at the event. Alumni are valuable business connections since they are often established in their field and eager to help students from their alma mater.

Also get to know your fellow online students. Those enrolled in distance learning programs are often working adults, meaning your fellow students can become rich business connections even before graduation. Participate as often as possible not only in your course forums but also the general forums provided by the online school. There is evidence that relationships developed online can be just as strong as those developed in-person.

However, the goal of connections is to help your career, and that means focusing on quality, not quantity. Develop a select number of deep, personal relationships where you know each other on a personal level. Rather than simply requesting a recommendation or a good word from the other person, strive for a meaningful relationship by being generous and helpful to others. Although it seems difficult with online-only programs, the truth is that some people may actually feel more comfortable discussing the field with you online.

Whether you are earning an online accounting degree, an online management degree or any other type of online degree, from the bachelor’s level to the doctorate level, the people you meet through your online educational institution can help you further your career. Take the time to get to know fellow students, faculty and alumni personally rather than simply expecting them to help you, make your instructor’s life easier by meeting deadlines and following guidelines and consider helping other students with assignments.

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