Networking is purposefully working towards building professional connections in your chosen career field. It is working towards developing a group of individuals who can assist you with information about your career field and, in turn, you can do the same throughout different stages of your career. Networking can be formal like meeting alumni or professionals at a networking event or informal like talking to the person next to you in line or on a plane.
Benefits of Networking
- To find out about career fields
- To find out about opportunities
- To learn about a business or organization
- To gain advice or support with your own decision making and professional growth
- To build your professional network
How to Build Your Network
Start by identifying potential people to connect with. Make a list of family, friends, and neighbors that you know in careers related to your interests. Ask your parents, co-workers or others if they have any connections they would be willing to introduce you to, in person or virtually.
Create a LinkedIn profile, join the Gustavus Alumni group and search for individuals at companies you are interested in, who graduated with the same major you are pursuing or who have a careeer you are interested in. Please note, you do not want to connect with every alum! LinkedIn is a professional social media site and you want to interact in a professional manner. Find one or two to people to connect with. See if you share a mutual LinkedIn connection to introduce you.
Other ways to build your professional network:
- Attend networking events
- Join professional organizations related to your career field as a student member. Attend the organizations workshops or conferences.
- Volunteer through a campus program or in your community.
- Conduct informational interviews or job shadow with professionals in the career areas that interest you.
- Obtain a part-time or full-time internship which allows you to gain relevant work experience and network.
- Attend career events on and off campus.
Advice for Networking
- Be polite and keep the conversation relatively short. Be respectful of others time.
- Be able to explain briefly about your goals and interests.
- When attending networking events or career fairs, dress professionally in business attire or business casual attire.
- Practice your elevator speech -- your 30 to 60 second introduction of who you are, what you are studying and what qualifications or skills you have.
- Never ask directly for an internship or job.
Updated 8/26/2013 CO