5 Tips to Networking with Your Professor

11.06.2013 | | Katariina Nuotio

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photos-teacher-his-students-school-class-pointing-to-laptop-computer-image29830798Relationships between students and professors are often limited to the immediate task at hand and the course material. Many students still see networking as something that is done outside the classroom, in career events and on-line. You can, however, start building your skills in networking already in the classroom and get a head start to your peers.

You can expand your network exponentially through other peoples’ networks

Your professors have a wide network of their own around the world. They have taught hundreds of others just like you. They know alumni and professors in various countries and universities. Many have extensive networks in several industries and the business world. Especially in Asia, networking has been an established and essential component of business culture throughout history. Your professors will understand very well the need for young professionals to make contacts.

Your professors are experienced writers of letters of recommendation, too. They may be able to provide you with one when you apply abroad to continue your studies. Most will be happy to help, especially if you follow these few tips:

  • 1.    Start from the classroom.

It starts from simple basics. Show up to class and be on time. Be respectful and address the professor by name. You will be safe with “Good morning, professor Jones”. Greet her also in the corridor. Take your hands off your mobile phone while she is on the podium. Rather, show your interest in the course at hand. Discuss the subject, and try to get a deeper understanding about what you are learning. Your professor will be quick to note your interest and curiosity that will abode well with you.

  • 2.    View each interaction as an opportunity to build rapport.

Apply yourself and talk about your interests and background. Ask questions. Not all professors want to share aspects of their personal life, but there will be plenty of business topics, research, and work-related experiences that you can learn from. Your professor might not be used to the Finnish winter and suffers from the cold. At HELBUS visiting professors hail from nine countries and spend a few weeks in Finland staying at a hotel. While some have work to catch up on, many would be happy to engage with students also outside class hours and see some of Helsinki. Offer your help also on practical matters. Small deeds make a huge difference.

  • 3.    Be yourself.

Even if you are not naturally outgoing, networking skills are within your reach. Everyone has moments of shyness – some people just hide it well. Your professors will have seen the full scope from introverts to extroverts and will be able to see beyond that. Smile goes a long way. Also, remember that the professor himself can be shy outside the classroom. But in any case he is most likely to be friendly. You can practice conversation starters and bridges to cover any awkward gaps in conversation. There are plenty of resources out there to guide you. The important thing is to be your genuine yourself.

  • 4.    Maintain your connection.

As you grow in your professional career, there are several ways to cultivate your relationships with professors. Use social media to update a wider network of people with your professional movements. Drop a note every now and then to your professor to remind him or her of your relationship and what is going on in your life. If he or she has supported you in any way, remember to thank him.

  • 5.    Pass the good along.

And finally: As you progress in your career, be helpful to others who come to you for networking advice. One day they might be in a position that could be helpful for you.

June 11th, 2013 by Katariina Nuotio

Katariina Nuotio


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