Networking is the way that professionals build community and support each other. The goal is to build a web of people you can reach out to for advice and information.
How to Reach Out
The hardest part of networking is the initial outreach to a new contact. While we have lots of in-person and online tools at our disposal, the first approach is potentially nerve-wracking. Your goal in the approach is to make a great first impression and share with your contact what you hope to get out of the conversation.
Quick Tips Include:
- Ask for an introduction from a mutual acquaintance, if you can. The Career and Community Engagement Center staff, faculty, and other staff members may be able to help you connect with people in your field.
- Share why you’re asking this person for help. What expertise can they provide? What areas of their background are you hoping to learn more about?
- Suggest a way to connect. Are you able to meet in person? Would you prefer to meet by phone or Skype? Suggest a way to meet and an expected (and reasonable) amount of time that the conversation will take.
- Reach out to multiple contacts. Your dream contact may not be readily available for a conversation, so make sure to reach out to lots of people.
- Express gratitude. After the conversation takes place, remember to thank the person for their time with a quick email or handwritten note! They’ll be more likely to refer you to other people if you take the extra time to personally thank them.
Connect with Alumni
In the Career and Community Engagement Center, we encourage you to connect with alumni as the building blocks for your professional networks. Meet with a staff member to discuss how to reach out to alumni in your field.
LinkedIn is a networking tool that, when used effectively, can help college students connect with professionals and search for a job. It is never too early to start your networking and searching, since cultivating a professional network takes time and effort.