Editor's Note: College Treps is a weekly column that puts the spotlight on college and graduate school-based entrepreneurs, as they tackle the tough task of starting up and going to school. Follow their daily struggles and this column on Twitter with the hashtag #CollegeTreps.
From pep rallies and sporting events to pitch competitions and entrepreneur meet-ups, college campuses can be a breeding ground for startups looking to spread their message and gain key advice. In addition to tapping the help of knowledgeable faculty and other students, my school offers a steady stream of events that I’ve found invaluable to the growth of my startup.
Here are five tips I've used for getting the most out of on-campus happenings:
1. Read the newspaper. Grab all the latest issues of your college and local city’s newspapers to scan them for events or programs that have something to do with your specific industry. This is a great way to not only find out about local events, but also to scope out your business competition.
2. Establish networking goals. When you attend on-campus meet-ups, it’s important to define exactly what you want to get out of attending. Get to know a person a little bit before exchanging business cards. Don’t just walk up to someone and automatically hand them your hard before even saying hello. When I attend events, I prefer to connect with two really valuable people, rather than run around and hand my business card to 20 random people.
3. Perfect your elevator pitch. Before attending these events, be sure you can tell someone exactly what your startup does in 30 seconds or less. Everyone is busy meeting a lot of people, so be sure to keep your pitch short and to the point -- avoid rambling and providing too much detail. If you’re unsure about your elevator pitch, try practicing it with a mentor or friend.
4. Learn proper etiquette. Though many of the campus networking events I’ve attended are fairly casual, it’s still important to know basic business etiquette. If you’re unsure where to learn about this type of protocol try consulting your college advisor, there are likely courses or seminars you can take to brush up.
5. Relax. If you’re like me, you may get a little nervous before attending events. Try not to worry and just go with the flow. If no one comes up to talk to you, simply go up to someone else, make eye contact, shake his or her hand and introduce yourself. Being in an industry where I deal with so many different types of personalities, I’ve come to realize that people are just people -- whether they’re the owner of a multi-million dollar company or a guy in my economics class.
What are your on-campus networking tips? Share them in the comments section below.
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The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.