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4 Ways to Build Your Network in Online Classes

Sera Emiroglu, Southern Utah University / Southern Utah University »

One of the main reasons people take in-person courses and attend a university is for the opportunity to meet and connect with people along the way. While it may be easier for on-campus students to establish connections, building a network as an online student is possible. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be hard — it can be fun. Here are four ways to build your network in an online class.

Reach Out to People in Your Classes

Don’t be afraid to reach out to people in your classes! Canvas has a messaging feature that you can use to make an initial connection. You can form study groups, ask for help on topics you’re struggling to understand, and build new friendships. Using video conferencing tools like Google Hangouts or Zoom can be a great way to facilitate your study groups and build relationships.

Odds are, those who are in your classes are going into the same industry that you’re planning on going into — especially if you’re in upper-division classes. It will be useful to have those relationships after graduation, whether that’s to receive help or to lend a hand to somebody else. Make sure that you connect with your classmates on your social media channels. Connecting with your online classmates on LinkedIn can be a great way to maintain your network.

Use Social Media as a Networking Tool

Almost everybody is on social media nowadays and these platforms are an excellent place for you to connect with those in your desired field. Follow people you admire, interact with their posts, share them, and reach out to them. You never know what can happen if you reach out to someone — most people are willing and excited to help others out where they can. 

Reach Outside of Classes and Out of Campus

This tip works both for online, and on-campus students. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people who are not in your classes or are out of campus! This includes alumni from your university. Alumni are a great resource to reach out to, and more often than not, they’ll be more than happy to help you out. In addition, don’t be afraid to reach out to your peers who attend different universities, but are studying the same subjects you are. Chances are, they will be able to shine a different light or bring a new perspective to what you’re learning.

Ask the Right Questions

In a TEDx Talk at the University of Nevada, David Burkus gave a talk titled “How To Hack Networking.” In his talk, Burkus points out that how you start a conversation with somebody could make or break the connection. He suggests that you should be seeking to reconnect with old friends as well as approaching each conversation as a friendship. Asking about hobbies, interests, passions, instead of the standard “what do you do for a living?”

Asking the right questions helps to change the way that you view the interaction. Instead of wanting something out of the connection, you’re now in the mindset of wanting to learn more about the other person on a more genuine level.


Even though networking can be difficult, especially as an online student, it can be done! Reach out to other students in the class, start discussions, make friends, and use social media as networking platforms. Furthermore, reach out to alumni, industry leaders, and peers who are in the same field of study.

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