• Networking 101: Tips and Tools for Online Students

    Jun 16th, 2009

    Working hard in college is usually preparation for a successful career after graduation. Another important aspect of this preparation is networking to establish connections with those who may be helpful when it comes time for going to grad school, finding a job, or making your way up the career ladder. Social networking is doubly important for online students who, by design, have fewer face-to-face interactions with professors and other students. Learn what you can do to make the most of your social networking experience while you are still in school with these tips and tools.

    Online Networking Basics

    Learn why networking is important and get tips on how best to do so.

    1. Participate. Don’t just sign up, set up a profile, then never log on again. For social networking to be effective, you have to participate.
    2. Get to know each other in a meaningful way. Social networking provides a unique way of getting to know people in a more meaningful through ambient awareness.
    3. Stay in contact. Just because you no longer share a class doesn’t mean you should drop your contacts. They may prove to be valuable resources later in school or even after graduation.
    4. Get to know your instructors. Establishing professional working relationships with your instructors not only provides you with a better experience with your classes, but will also lay the groundwork for solid references after graduation.
    5. Network through discussion groups. Joining discussion groups revolving around topics related to your career aspirations is a great way to network among those who may be helpful with life after graduation.
    6. Networking. Find out what you should and shouldn’t do when it comes to online networking.
    7. ‘Online Social Networking on Campus’. Based on a book by this title, this article offers a Q and A with one of the authors that describes how online social networking is used by students and what direction it is likely to take in the future.
    8. Students Turn to Social Networking Sites for Info. This article describes one valuable aspect of social networking by describing how students were warned to stay put during the shootings at Virginia Tech.
    9. How Social Networking Affects the Student Life Cycle — From Applicant to Graduate. Find out what these panelists from US colleges have to say about social networking and college students.
    10. Networking Timetable for College Students. Get a great outline to prepare you for a successful networking experience with this article.

    Creating a Great Internet Presence

    What you offer about yourself on the Internet is permanent. Learn how to present yourself in the best possible manner so that you don’t make mistakes you regret later.

    1. Keep your online image clean. While it may be tempting to post those photos from the crazy party last weekend, find out why you may want to think twice about doing that.
    2. Positive web presence. Establish a personal web presence that will help your career success after graduation.
    3. Your On-Line Life is Your Reputation: Dos, Don’ts and Tips. Follow these tips for managing your online reputation so that you are in a good position for grad school or starting your career.
    4. Managing Your Online Reputation: A College Student’s Perspective. Follow the sound advice from this public relations major to ensure you present yourself in the best way possible.
    5. Protecting Your Online Reputation. This article offers common-sense tips and reminders about online reputation that go beyond not posting party pics on Facebook.
    6. Not Just Your Space – the FREE ebook by Naymz. Download this free book that is written just to help college students learn how to keep their online image looking great.
    7. What You Say Online Could Haunt You. This USA Today article chronicles many real-life situations where students suffered the consequences of what they put on social networking sites.
    8. Brand-Yourself.com. Run by college entrepreneurs for college students seeking a positive image for themselves as they begin their life outside college, this site offers help establishing websites, online resumes, and more.
    9. Student Brand Makeover. This video shows how to present yourself in the most favorable light when finding a job, internship, or other similar situation.
    10. Reputation Defender Blog. This blog is from a company that helps keep online reputations clean and offers invaluable advice and highlights social networking trends that you should be aware of when establishing your reputation online.
    11. How to Manage Your Reputation Online. This article offers ways to promote your good reputation online while also monitoring anything new that may show up about you.

    Social Networking Sites for Students

    These social networking sites are designed specifically for students and usually offer information and opportunities beneficial for students beyond just networking.

    1. Student.com. Find other students, get information about colleges and financial aid, find top online schools, and more.
    2. learnhub. Education sharing is the focus of this social networking site helps users find assistance with assignments.
    3. Campusbug. Stay connected with other students while also getting access to tools and resources for studying, homework, and projects.
    4. RateMyProfessors.com. Find information about professors by school or by professor’s name at this site that also provides online social activity among members.
    5. IdeaWhip. Undergrads, grad students, and recent alumni who are trying their hand at entrepreneurship can connect through this social network.
    6. Loomagoo. Besides just connecting with others, students can purchase and sell text books, share notes and study guides, and more.
    7. The Quad. Students can collaborate on school projects or organize face-to-face social events on this social network.
    8. Playboy U. Owned by Playboy Enterprises, Inc., this social network offers journalism and networking with the feel of it’s parent company.
    9. ResearchGATE. Science researchers (whether students or professionals) can collaborate and network here.
    10. SciSpace.net. Another social network for scientists, this one also allows non-scientists to join.

    Other Popular Social Networking Sites

    These popular networking sites open up opportunities for meeting business professionals, other students, instructors, and more who may be important for your networking goals.

    1. Ning. Create your own social network or search for existing social networks here. Many online colleges have social networking sites on Ning.
    2. Facebook. One of the most popular social networking sites, Facebook was originally meant only for college students, but now hosts millions of members of all ages.
    3. MySpace. A close rival to Facebook, MySpace is also super popular and offers alternative methods of sharing videos, music, and more.
    4. LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a professional networking site and a great place to create an online presence that will continue to serve you long after graduation.
    5. Ecademy. This site is also for professional networking and provides the opportunity for making new connections with business professionals.
    6. Plaxo. This social network is also an aggregator, allowing you to combine other social networks in this one place.
    7. Naymz. Build your professional network while establishing your personal brand at this site.
    8. Fast Pitch. This social network gives you a chance to network with professionals in preparation for your career.
    9. Ryze. Make business contacts on this social community designed specifically for business networking.
    10. Talkbiznow. Collaborate, present your own business, and more on this site that promotes networking among business professionals.
    11. tribe.net. Similar to Ning, this site hosts "tribes" of people connected through a common interest.

    Using Twitter as a Networking Tool

    Twitter has become an important networking tool lately. Find out how you can use it to your advantage.

    1. Get to know your classmates. A class Twitter group will help facilitate professors and students getting to know each other, especially for an online class where you probably won’t meet in person.
    2. Collaborate on projects. When working together on projects, set up a group using an app like Tweetworks to help collaboration.
    3. Brainstorm. Brainstorm on assignments and class projects on Twitter and you can share ideas as they occur to you.
    4. Direct Tweet. Professors and students can contact each other through direct Tweets without having to share cell phone numbers or wait for an email.
    5. Follow news stories. From sources such as @Reuters to @CNNMoney to @NatGeoSociety, students can follow news that relates to what they are studying.
    6. Make announcements. Instructors can send out reminders about upcoming tests, project due dates, or any other news that needs to be shared via Twitter.
    7. Take a poll. Ask student their opinions or get feedback on future projects or topics by using an app like PollDaddy.
    8. Share interesting websites. Both professors and students can post interesting websites that are relevant to their class.
    9. Follow mentors. If professors or other key figures in your field of study are on Twitter, follow them to keep up with their research and activities.
    10. Spread the news. Schools can send out Tweets to keep students informed about news pertaining to the school.

    Social Networking Sites Facilitating Peer-to-Peer Loans

    If paying for school is a struggle, check out these networking sites that facilitate loans for students.

    1. GreenNote. This popular alternative to student loans allows members to finance loans to individual students at low interest rates.
    2. Lending Club. Lending Club allows borrowers to get low rates and lenders to make money on loans they fund to borrowers they choose.
    3. Zopa. This social finance network connects members who are seeking loans with credit unions who offer low-interest rates.
    4. CommunityLend. Members can learn about each other, hear their stories, and discover their financial experience then connect to borrow and lend money together.
    5. RSF Social Finance. This group connects lenders to borrowers in the greatest need and maintains an eye on social and environmental issues.
    6. Virgin Money. Virgin Money facilitates borrowing or lending money through friends and family or funds borrowers directly through Virgin Money loans.
    7. Prosper.This site allows member-borrowers to create a listing and set the interest rate they are seeking, then lenders participate in an auction to fund the loan.
    8. Fynanz. Fynanz offers peer-to-peer lending for students seeking help with college expenses.
    9. Loanio. Members can bid on loans they fund to other members who are seeking money. Loanio also offers a co-borrowing option with friends or family.

    Collaborating with Others Online

    These tools offer excellent ways to collaborate with classmates and instructors online.

    1. NoteMesh. Share notes with others in your class with this tool that creates a wiki for the class.
    2. NoteCentric. Another note-sharing tool, this one also allows students to share with other members of their class.
    3. Campfire. Set up instant chat rooms with your classmates or study group with this tool.
    4. writewith. Students working together on writing projects can use this tool for shared documents and tasks, discussions, and more.
    5. Zoho Show. Students can create and share great online presentations with Zoho Show.
    6. CiteULike. Share scholarly articles on the Internet, then use this tool to store, organize, and share the results of your research.
    7. ThinkFold. Students can create real-time outlines collaboratively with ThinkFold.
    8. Google Calendar. Google Calendar is a sharable calendar that can help keep one student or a whole class on task with assignments, tests, deadlines, and more.
    9. Notefish. Students and instructors can save web content, organize, and share their notes with the entire class.
    10. MeetWithApproval. A great tool for online classes, you can plan a virtual meeting with this meeting planner.
    11. PBwiki. This wiki platform is popular with educators and helps facilitate group collaboration.
    12. Thinkature. Students can collaborate with each other, organize thoughts and research, and prepare papers and projects with this tool.
    13. Wizlite. Use this tool to highlight text online and share with others in your class.
    14. ProBoards. Create a discussion board easily and quickly with this tool offers a great way to host discussions for online students.

    Finding a Job through Social Networking

    Find out how you can use social networking to find a job after graduation.

    1. HOW TO: Build the Ultimate Social Media Resume. Use this tool to help you build an online resume that will showcase your talent.
    2. Using Your Blog as a Job Search Tool. Learn how you can use your blog to get noticed and find a job.
    3. Alumwire. College students and recent grads can use the free services here to find a job.
    4. Glassdoor.com. Find out about companies, salaries, and more at this site when researching where you want to work. Students can receive a free one-year membership.
    5. MyWorkster. Created specifically for students and new grads, this site links college networks with employers and provides access to job listings through Indeed.
    6. JobWeb. Specifically for new grads, this site offers help finding a job, opportunities to research employers, and informative articles.
    7. CollegeRecruiter.com. Both students and recent grads can find internship opportunities as well as jobs with this resource.

    Finding a Job through Twitter

    While it may be surprising, Twitter offers great opportunities for the job seeker. Find out how with these tips and tools.

    1. HOW TO: Find a Job on Twitter. Learn how you can find a job on Twitter with this article that includes several feeds you may want to follow.
    2. twitterjobcast. This tool allows you to search for jobs posted on Twitter by keyword or geographic location.
    3. TweetMyJobs. Job seekers and employers can find each other via Twitter with this tool.
    4. 50 People on Twitter Job Seekers Should Follow. Discover 50 Twitter feeds to follow if you are looking for a job. Be sure to read the follow-up post for even more feeds.
    5. Follow your occupation. Track the profession you want to practice on Twitter and stay informed about what others are saying.
    6. Follow a company. Most companies have a Twitter feed, so begin following the ones you are interested in working for so you can become familiar with their culture.
    7. Follow @jobhunting. From tips for recent college grads to recession-proof job information, this Twitter feed offers tons of information for those hunting for jobs.
    8. Post your intentions. Posting about your job hunt on Twitter can bring surprising results and is definitely worth the effort to get the word out.

    Online Education Blogs

    Blogs offer a great way to stay connected with an online community, and these blogs all focus on online education.

    1. My State of Flux. Find resources, editorials, and information about online learning in this blog.
    2. Inspiration for Education. Get uplifting news articles and interviews on this blog that frequently focus on online education.
    3. Teaching and Developing Online. This blog offers links to resources and advice to enhance the online learning environment.
    4. Michelle’s Online Learning Freakout Party Zone. Get tips and resources to enhance your online learning here.
    5. California Dreamin’. Learn about online education and much more when you follow this blog.
    6. Online Learning Update. This news aggregator offers the latest trends and developments in online learning.
    7. Inside eLearning by Susan Smith Nash, Ph.D.. Find helpful advice and information to enhance your online clearing experience here.
    8. Virtual High School Meanderings. While the focus of this blog is high school distance education, it provides insight on many issues that pertain to online learning in general.
    9. e-Learning Evangelist. Working in the world of e-learning since the mid-1990′s, this veteran online educator has plenty to offer on his blog.
    10. BestOnlineHighSchools.com. While mostly examining high schools, there is also often good information about online colleges here as well.
    11. Thoughts from BFE. Read about technology as well as online learning in both high school and higher education.
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