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Networking 101

Networking is a process of connecting and developing relationships for both personal and professional success, and it is the #1 job search strategy! This can happen with in-person interactions or electronically — learn to do both effectively.

Why? Because it seems like a free for all and everyone seems to be better at it than you. You are asking yourself, What do I do? How do I start? What if no one wants to talk with me? I don't have anything interesting to say... If this is you, then you are not alone. Prepare and get a game plan!

Stop thinking this is always some formal affair at a conference or event. You can do this anywhere! Alumni events, School groups, Professional organizations, Conferences, or Start Your Own.... Invite three friends... they invite three friends and meet out at a social venue.

  • Wear something that makes you feel great and that is comfortable
  • Don’t bring a large bag or back-pack
  • Bring lots of cards (if you have them)
  • A pen to jot down notes
  • See who is coming (RSVP list or who’s tweeting, LinkedIn)

Don't go into a networking situation thinking that you are going to change your life or worse yet- put undue pressure to get a job that evening! Nothing complicated needed, check out these and walk away feeling accomplished!

  • Meet 5 new people
  • Start 3 new conversations
  • Learn something new
  • Get introduced

So you made it there, but don't head for the door just yet. Take your time. Start with food or a drink. Scope out the room and pick someone alone or a group of three to four people.

Develop your Elevator Pitch!

  • Why you love what you do
  • What you are doing currently
  • What you hope to do
  • What you need (ADVICE)

Click here for suggestions on how to formulate a good elevator pitch (link).

Don’t be afraid to relax and talk non-business matters first

  • What are you into outside of work?
  • Have you been to these things before?

Ask open ended questions

  • How’d you get started in the/with the …..
  • What projects are you involved with?

Tip: If you approach a group of two, they are probably together and your chances of entering the conversation are severely reduced.

Some suggestions to get you started:

  • It’s been so great chatting with you, but I see a few more people I want to connect with.
  • I have to head out right now, but I really enjoyed learning more about your work. Could I get your contact info to schedule a time for us to finish our conversation?
  • It was really a pleasure speaking with you. I'm going to take a look at XX, I hope to see you at another event soon.

With practice, you will develop your unique way of closing, or transitioning, a conversation.

The process is all about respect.

  • When contacting someone you don't know remember to be professional, explain your purpose and respect their time.
  • Give contacts a copy of your resume... But never ask for a Job! A better way, ask, "Do you have any openings at your firm?" or "Do you know of any current opportunities in the local industry of ________?"
  • Look before you lunch: It is not about the food or you...this is a fact finding mission.
  • Think like a host, work to get the entire table involved not just the person next to you.
  • If you setup an informational interview, be sure to prepare questions and dress professionally.
  • Keep in contact and always express your thanks.

Click here to see a sample Networking Request Email (PDF file)

Additional Resources through Career Services:

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