Connections Trump Grades for New Grads . / Credit: Hiring Image via Shutterstock

College graduation is just around the corner, so it’s important for college students to start taking simple steps to improve their odds of getting a job after graduation. Whether the goal is to get a job or to start a business, success will depend on personal and professional connections, one expert says.

Even though building a network may seem like an enormous challenge, networking has become easier in the age of social media, said Michael Brown, a career consultant and author of the book “Fresh PASSION: Get a Brand or Die a Generic”(Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2013). As a result, Brown said, creating a personal brand is also becoming easier. 

To help job-seekers build and enhance their professional networks, Brown offers the following tips. 

 [What's Keeping Graduates from Finding Jobs?]

  • Work on your LinkedIn profile: Social media sites — particularly LinkedIn — have changed the networking landscape. Many people rely on their LinkedIn network for referrals, introductions, reviews and references, all of which come in handy when you are looking for a job. Anyone you deal with professionally should be added to your LinkedIn network.Even if your contact with these people was short, add them, because you are trying to grow your network.
  • Organize your email inbox: Create an official contact in your email address book for anyone you deal with, and put as much information in there as you can gather. You want to be able to find the contact information for these people easily — so make a record (of those people), and fill it out as completely as possible.
  • Always think about networkingFocus on growth, and think about all the people you encounter on a daily basis. Grab a business card, or search for them on LinkedIn if there is any chance you can call on them professionally in the future.
  • Cast a wide net: Don't be too selective about who you add to your network. You never know when you may need to talk to someone in an industry completely separate from your own, and you never know when you may change career paths.
  • Ask for help: Don’t be afraid to ask someone in your network to introduce you to someone who’s currently outside your network. This is business, and most people will be happy to connect you to someone who can help.

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