Meg Frantz By Meg Frantz • April 3, 2019

6 Ways Online Students Can Network Professionally

Networking with classmates is an important part of any degree program and can lead to career advancements as well. However, what are you supposed to do if you take courses online? It is possible to make meaningful connections in a virtual environment, if you are smart about it. And have a plan. Connecting with people doesn’t have to be hard, nor does it have to be out of your comfort zone or schedule. You probably have more opportunities at your fingertips than you realize, if you consider your academic, work and personal connections.

Try these tips for networking as an online student.

1. Participate in Facebook groups.

Never underestimate the power of this social networking platform for professional purposes. While originally designed to allow college students to get to know each other, the behemoth is now the top social media platform where friends, family and strangers come together to dialogue about topics ranging from Thanksgiving dinner to softball game schedules and college memories to retirement planning. By joining professional or alumni groups, opportunities to network are endless, and maintaining positive and truthful content is key to building and maintaining good professional connections.

2. Engage in LinkedIn groups.

The granddaddy of career networking platforms. Share content related to professional success, make connections with colleague’s colleagues, or post and search for employment opportunities. Participate in group discussions that vary from working mom’s success in the corporate sector to understanding how businesses do business. This is the place where you should always have your professional persona buffed and polished for public presentation. 

3. Join Alumnifire.

Thomas Edison State University is part of the Alumnifire network, a service unique for each college or university, and allows grads to post services they are interested in providing and to take advantage of services that interest them. Matches are made so graduates can connect with each other or to mentor current TESU students. Services range from talking about the TESU educational experience to resume review and career mentoring.

4. Scout your company portal or social media hubs.

Many organizations have a portal or dedicated social media page where employees can reference company directory information, policies and procedures, or even review what the lunch specials are in the cafeteria. These platforms often allow for dialogue about workplace challenges and allow colleagues to exchange notes about topics related to their personal lives. Use this outlet for professional advancement by posting and commenting positively in online conversations.

5. Reach out to classmates and mentors in your online courses.

Your courses can present a powerful networking opportunity, if you take advantage of it. Your classmates and mentors are entrenched in varying stages of their careers and will be able to provide professional insight and experience you can learn from in and outside of class. Don’t be afraid to message them outside of the Discussion Forum to learn more about a topic you’re interested in or to continue a more in-depth conversation. And don’t take group projects for granted – they may be able to help you build relationships with your classmates outside the virtual course space.

6. Check out local professional and social organizations.

Professional and/or personal organizations like ACE Women’s Network, Lion’s Club or the Masons may start with personal relationship building, but offer professional opportunities for networking. A connection that you make in one of these organizations may present an opportunity for your future career, so get involved!

Meg Frantz

Written by Meg Frantz

Meg Frantz is the director of Alumni Affairs. For nearly 20 years, she has worked in the marketing departments of nonprofit art organizations and higher education as a project manager and team leader. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis on theatre arts from Susquehanna University. Connect with her via email at mfrantz@tesu.edu.

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