How to Network
Networking is the process of establishing relationships with people, exchanging information and ideas, and working together for future mutually beneficial exchanges. Networking takes place in formal and informal settings. Networking is most effective when you are being yourself. Genuinely seeking assistance and information can lead to positive results.
1. Develop a List of Potential Contacts
- You already have a network consisting of professors, co-workers, supervisors, friends, family, etc. Build your network by starting with these existing contacts and asking them to introduce you to people they know.
- Additional paths for building your network include:
- Student Organizations
- Professional Organizations
- Community Involvement
- Online Social Networking
- Company-Sponsored Information Sessions and Events
- Informational Interviewing
- Career Fairs
2. Organize Your Contacts
- Develop a system for organizing your contacts in a way that works for you. One example is to create and maintain a spreadsheet with this information.
- Information to track for each contact, besides their name and contact information:
- What they do
- Who they know
- What contact you have had with them
3. Outline Your Networking Objectives
- If you are in the initial stages of career planning, you may use networking for informational interviews and career research.
- If you are in the search for a job, you might network to obtain job leads, referrals, or advice on how to conduct your job search.
- Go into every networking situation knowing what you hope to get out of it.
- Review your accomplishments. Consider your skills, interests, and values. Know what you are seeking and what you have to offer.
- Practice your self-pitch, or a brief, professional introduction. Good information to include in your self-pitch:
- Your Name
- Year in school
- Something unique about yourself (ex. An internship you completed that has prepared you for the next step in your career)
- Prepare questions and conversation starters to facilitate discussions.
- Have your resume ready to give to the contact when and if appropriate.
5. Reach Out to Contacts
- Consider the best method for initiating a meeting or discussion with your contact:
- Face-to-Face (When possible, this method is generally best)
- Social Media
- Remember to communicate professionally. Introduce yourself, state your purpose for contacting the individual, and be polite.
- If you leave a message or send a letter, let the person know when you will be following up. Then, be sure to do so.
6. Use Good Communication Skills
- Be assertive, but not obnoxious.
- Listen intently to the information and advice being provided.
- Thank the contact for their time and assistance. Follow-up with a thank you note or email after a meeting.