How to Network in High School 🕸️
Networking is by far one of the most important skills for high school students. Up to 80% of jobs
are obtained by personal connections, especially when applicants have little to no experience. In the high school scene, this means that jobs and important activities and opportunities go to those who network the most. Don’t know where to start? Here are some tips to network effectively as a high schooler.
Networking with Peers 😎
Have you ever thought, “Oh, that person was only elected as student body president because they’re popular!” In high school, socializing with peers is a form of networking. The more well-known you are, the more other students will likely trust you and vote you into leadership positions.
GIF via Tenor
By no means is it important to be the most popular person at school, and you should never do anything that makes you uncomfortable to gain popularity. However, it’s important to build a good reputation for yourself. Make an effort to be kind to people, speak up in class, and be confident in your skills and abilities. When you’re confident, people will be confident in you, and you will be far more likely to win that club president position you’ve wanted since freshman year. This confidence will also translate to networking with adults!
Networking with Adults 🤝
Networking with adults is very different from networking with peers because you have to act like an adult, not a cool teenager. While it may be intimidating to start networking with adults, keep in mind that most are more than willing to help you. They’re excited when young people are interested in their fields, and if you are polite to them, they will do their best to find opportunities for you! Follow these tips for networking with adults:
Make a conscious effort to talk about your interests with adults in your life 👋
One of the easiest ways to build your network is to start with adults you already know: family friends, coworkers, teachers, mentors, etc. When you’re talking with adults, try to bring your hobbies, interests, and aspirations into the conversation. You can even ask them directly: “I’m looking for an internship in __. Do you know anyone who I can connect with?” Chances are, they have friends or family in that field who can help you get in touch. However, be careful not to overdo this: let your interests come up organically in the conversation, and don’t forget to ask them questions about their lives, too!
Participate in clubs and activities outside of school 🏐🎭🎨
Volunteering, joining youth boards, attending workshops, and participating in other activities outside of school is a great way to connect with adults interested in the same things as you are. Often, people supervising these activities already care about giving teenagers opportunities to succeed, and you can show your passion through the work you do and the conversations you have.
In these scenarios, try your best to build deep connections with your mentors by taking time to ask them how their day was, remembering small details about their lives, and even just thanking them after your time together. However, try not to ask them for too much too soon. Let your actions speak louder than your words, and once they know you’re passionate about the work you’re doing, you can start asking them for small favors (and then bigger ones). Remember the foot-in-the-door effect: if you ask for something small first, people will likely give you something big later.
Use LinkedIn to make connections online 🌐
In an online world, using the internet to make connections is one of the best ways to network. You can begin building your profile
and then connect with people you know well. Even if you don’t have much work experience, you can add clubs, activities, and volunteering to your profile. Additionally, you can change your heading and summary to describe your interests and aspirations.
Now is also a great time to clean up your digital presence. As a general rule, if you wouldn’t want a teacher, a boss, or a college admissions officer to see something, don’t post it on a public account.
Networking with Teachers 👨🏿🏫👩🏽🏫
Networking with teachers is a lot like networking with adults, except you see them every day, so you can be more personable with them. Don’t forget to be kind to your teachers: ask them about their day, thank them after class, and try to keep a positive attitude in class. You want your teacher to remember you, so ask smart questions, come to office hours, and try to go above and beyond. As a general rule, try to make it so that at least every other assignment you turn in is of exceptional quality. Once your teachers start to see that you’re a stellar student, they will start to help you find opportunities both inside and outside of school, and they will write you amazing letters of recommendation!
Networking is one of the most important skills to develop in high school - whether you want a job, an internship, or a leadership position. Wherever you’re trying to build your network, don’t be afraid to talk openly about your interests and aspirations, and always be kind, respectful, and humble.