4 tips for making meaningful connections at Zoom-iversity
So you’re new at uni. You’ve got all the notebooks and highlighters you’ll ever need (and will probably never use), you’ve sorted out your timetable, and you’ve stacked your pantry full of study snacks… now what?
Uni can be an amazing opportunity to learn new things, get out of your comfort zone and prepare for your future career, but the social aspect of uni is just as important. With UTS increasingly moving classes to the online space this year, making friends isn’t as simple as just sitting next to someone in a lecture anymore.
Whether it’s mastering the art of small talk or just taking the plunge and reaching out to someone new, knowing how to make new connections is an important skill both now as you start university, and later on during your career. Here are 4 tips for making genuine connections as a new uni student in the Zoom-iversity era.
Harness the power of social media
There are a lot of perks to having more online classes, like being able to snuggle pets at home, attend a lecture from your couch, and constant access to snacks. Unfortunately, it can be hard to make meaningful connections through a pixelated screen, which is where other social media channels come in handy.
We’re all used to socialising over Messenger, Instagram and Snapchat, so reaching out in this way will feel much less daunting than asking someone to meet up for a study session over glitchy video chat. If you connect with someone in one of your Zoom breakout rooms, why not send them a message on Facebook? If you’re feeling shy, it could help to put together a group chat with some of the other people in your class where you can share notes and study tips as well as get to know each other.
Learning the art of taking a small connection and expanding it over social media will come in handy in your professional life too, with networking over LinkedIn and email becoming an essential skill.
No matter your faculty, discipline, or hobby, it’s likely UTS has a club or society for you! Extracurricular activities are a great way to meet people with similar interests to you, which makes small talk and introductions a breeze. With many clubs and societies holding regular activities both in person and online, it’s a good excuse to socialise while also having something that will look great on your CV.
So not only will you be able to make like-minded friends, you’ll probably also have the opportunity to gain industry connections through your club or society’s link to alumni and organisations in the same field.
The key to making and keeping connections at the moment is being creative and innovative with your socialising plans. Invite a new uni friend to a FaceTime brunch or coffee date, or break the ice with a get-to-know you Kahoot quiz over Zoom! Having a fun activity planned will probably make you feel more at ease and give you something to chat about if you’re at a loss.
The good news is that getting used to this new way of staying connected will also prepare you for the future of work. Video meetings and interviews are becoming the norm, and employers are looking out for individuals who can contribute new and creative ideas to their organisations!
Remember: making genuine connections doesn’t happen overnight
It can be compelling to force friendships right now, but resist the urge to send the “WILL YOU BE MY BFF???” message. If you think about the important relationships in your life, it’s unlikely they were formed in just one go; connections are something you have to work on and develop over time. So keep on inviting your new pal for (digital) coffees and catch ups and in no time it’ll feel like you’ve always been friends.
The same goes for making professional connections! If you slide into a potential employer’s LinkedIn DMs asking for a job outright, it’s unlikely that they’ll give you the time of day. Instead, ask some questions and take the opportunity to learn from someone you admire. Building a network takes time, just like making genuine friends.
Making connections can be tricky at the best of times, but remember everyone is in the same position as you right now! Hold onto those notebooks, highlighters and snacks, and prepare for an amazing semester, because we’re sure you’re going to ace this ‘friend’ thing.
Featured image courtesy of Unsplash
Social Media Intern
Lily Cameron is a writer and editor based in Sydney. She is a Communications (Creative Writing) student at UTS, and current Social Media Intern at UTS Careers. She is passionate about telling stories, both hers and others’, and the way digital and social media is changing the literary landscape. Her writing has appeared in Voiceworks, The Brag, and elsewhere.