January 6, 2011 | Suzanne Shaffer | 5 Comments When you’re in college, the last thing you might be thinking about is getting a job. But if you’re a savvy student, preparing for the job search will be at the top of your list. It’s never too early to start putting some irons in the fire and work toward that ultimate goal after graduation: gainful employment. If you follow these steps you should be well on your way to positioning yourself at the head of the pack. Step 1-Create a Personal Brand Ideally you should start thinking about branding yourself when you enter college. If you create your own personal brand, it creates buzz; and four years down the road you won’t just be another graduate in a pool of applicants vying for that one specific job. In the area of personal branding, Dan Schawbel is the man to follow. This guy created his own personal brand while attending college at Bentley University in Massachusetts. When he graduated, he wrote a book on the subject, Me 2.0: 4 Steps to Building your Future. Dan wrote an excellent article for Mashable outlining the basics of personal branding: discover your brand, create your brand, and communicate your brand. BrazenCareerist.com is also a great site to build your personal brand and connect with others. It will require some effort on your part, but you will reap the rewards upon graduation. Step 2-Network, Network, Network Fortunately, college students have more opportunities to network than any other group of job seekers. The key is to take advantage of every occasion and leverage those connections. Attend every single career fair, even if it’s not in your major. You never know what connection you might make or what company you might impress. Ask questions, make contact, and present yourself positively to every company represented. Attend alumni events. Alumni are your best connection to the business world because they were once in college and know how hard it is to find a job. Connect with a few that are in your field of study and maintain those connections all throughout college. Become involved and volunteer. Volunteering is an excellent way to meet business professionals and boost your network. It doesn’t matter if you choose to spend some time with your church or an area non-profit. There are professionals in your field in every walk of life if you keep your “networking” eyes and ears open. Work at internships, even if they are unpaid. These give you the best hands-on experience in your field and allow you to connect with professionals in that area. Collect business cards (and give them one of yoursâ€”yes, you need to have business cards with your photo on them) and stay in contact with those people throughout your college career. Attend networking events by locating them on Meetup.com. These events are great places to meet other business people and establish yourself in the community. People are more likely to recommend you if they know who you are and have some form of relationship with you. Step 3-Become Socially Active Be socially active. Spend some time on the social networks: Twitter, Facebook LinkedIn, and blogging. Get started by following these simple instructions: Get active on Twitter. Set up a profile and link it back to your Facebook page, your blog or you LinkedIn profile. Connect with alumni, business professionals in your field of study, internships gurus and other college students. Attend Twitter Chats (you can find a list of chats by clicking here) related to job searching, networking, resume writing and internships. Set up a Facebook page if you haven’t already done so. Remember that potential employers will view this page, so you want to keep it clean and professional. Be sure to include a picture of yourself, omitting obscene gestures or beer bongs. Fill out your profile completely and make sure to turn on the privacy that disables the ability for people to tag you in pictures and videos (allowing people to see the ones tagged of you). Search for alumni pages and make those connections as well. Create a LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is an online resume and a current collection of your own personal network. It’s notable that people with more than twenty connections are thirty-four times more likely to be approached with a job opportunity than people with less than five. It makes sense to spend some time making those connections. Guy Kawasaki wrote a helpful article: Ten Ways to Use LinkedIn. If you utilize the tips he gives, you will add to your hiring appeal. Start your own blog. Blogging helps you strengthen your personal brand and establish your expertise and interest. Blogs rank higher in search engines and provide a forum for you to communicate with potential employers. Leave comments on other blogs and use those blogs to make additional connections. You may be in college and feel as if all these suggestions are overwhelming and too much to expect when you are focusing on academics. But think about this: spending a few hours a week on these three steps might make the difference in finding the job of your dreams after graduation. The sacrifice of your time is definitely worth the return on your investment. Have you used any of these techniques to find a job? What worked best for you?