Online education is an amazing way to get a degree from anywhere in the world. But, without the opportunity to meet people in person and develop one-on-one relationships, it can be difficult to use an online degree program to make professional connections, as well.
Traditional on-campus students often have an advantage when it comes to making those personal relationships that can transform into business connections. But, in reality, the online environment has the same potential for networking, if you are willing to make the effort. There are plenty of ways to make connections as an online student that could further your career down the road. Here are just a few ideas:
1. Start conversations with professors.
You don’t need to be available in person to create relationships with professors. Make sure to actively answer questions they pose on discussion boards and do your best in all your work, and they will surely notice you. You can also email them personally with questions or with requests for more information about what they do and how you can get into similar fields.
2. Organize study groups.
Online study groups can actually be very efficient. If you organize a group that divides up work, you can get together anytime over Google Docs or via video chat. This is a great way to get to know your classmates and connect with students who are just as driven.
3. Create online topic forums.
If you have particular conversations that you would like to start as an extension of class, try creating your own forum where students can participate and add their two cents. If you have a particular interest or professional area you would like to discuss, you may attract people with similar passions.
4. Do a remote internship.
There are plenty of internships that can be done online. From writing to researching to book-keeping, positions for interns are often abundant because the pay is low and the pool of students vying for them is vast. Even if you can’t find any advertised internship opportunities, there is no reason not to make contact with a small online company in your area of interest that might be interested in a helping hand.
5. Start a blog.
Starting a blog can be just like starting your own PR firm. You can say and do whatever you want, and, if you keep working at it, you may even garner enough interest to establish a place for yourself online. Either way, it’s a great way to connect with people who share your interests.
6. Get a LinkedIn profile.
There is no easier way to make instant professional connections than by creating a profile on LinkedIn. You can connect with your classmates and professors, and you can also request connections with people in your desired industries.
7. Tweet about areas of career interest.
If you’re an online student with a Twitter profile, try to use it to your advantage professionally. Instead of tweeting only about your personal life, make sure to include content about people who you admire professionally or industries that you would like to enter.