In an industry of who you know not what you know, networking is high on the list of necessities. A recent study of top fashion schools said that 65% of students graduating were hired by personal connections.
It may seem daunting to have the pressure of networking as a student. And many students believe that networking while still attending college is difficult. Thatís a myth. Networking is simply building relationships. Itís about getting to know the people in the industry that you are aiming to become a part of. Itís getting to know what they do and letting them into your world.
Building relationships and making connections while still in school is easier than you think. You speak with other students and professors every single day. Many professors have had or currently hold positions in the industry. That professor might have valuable industry information or another connection for you to make.
There are also associations that you can join. For example, by joining the American Apparel and Footwear Association, representing apparel, footwear, and other sewn products and companies, you gain access to everything from valuable market research statistics to the opportunity to participate in and attend trade shows and educational seminars where further networking and more connections can be made.
School events are also a way to start building your little black book. Lectures from industry professionals, fashion shows produced by graduating students, and conferences can be opportunities for you to comfortably build your relationship-building skills while still making valuable associations.
And yet another way to make connections is to donate time at a non-profit fashion group such as GenArt. GenArt is the leading arts and entertainment organization committed to showcasing emerging fashion designers, filmmakers, and visual artists. They produce over 100 events annually ranging from film festivals to fashion shows. While GenArt sells memberships where you are guaranteed admission to these events, donating your time for one of these events will not only help you build your personal database, it will also garner you the experience of working a large event that industry professionals attend.
If youíre still not sold on how easy it can be to make connections in college, then look no further than your internship. An internship might be something you are required to do or it might not. But if you find an internship working in your desired field, your hard work, long days, and many hours will pay off when you realize the links youíve made. An internship not only provides you with valuable work experience, you are surrounded by individuals who have crawled up the very ladder you are on. Donít be afraid to show your ambition and ask questions. Use your time wisely. Talk to those you are working with and for. Allow them to get to know you, your work ethic, and end goals. Opportunities can arise and you might miss out if you donít set your sails early.
Networking is not easy for all of us but it can be. Look around you and youíll see the chance to make connections springing up everywhere.