Build a network of contacts and references to provide a support system as you explore and pursue your career goals. Ideally, networking starts long before an internship or job search.
Be open-minded and willing to meet new people. Network with a purpose and look to connect with those who have an interesting career path or have worked in a field you are interested in.
You already have a network started with family and friends. Consider expanding your network by sourcing contacts from a variety of places:
Peers, family, and friends
Employers and faculty members
LinkedIn and LionLink to make meaningful connections
Attend information sessions on campus to meet with potential employers
Connect after career fairs or events with professionals you meet
Reach out to interesting guest speakers or presenters in class or on campus
Use filters to search based on what the alums majored in, where they are now professionally, or even their interests. Connect now and get valuable Lion Insight!
Keys to Effective Networking
Networking is most effective when driven with purpose and specific goals. Be prepared and persistent and set clear, achievable goals.
- Establish your Goal
Your career interests will influence the people or organization you reach out to. Decide if you are looking for information about a specific organization or job opening, how to best start in a certain career field, or for general career advice.
- Prepare to Connect
Make sure to research the organization and person you are connecting with before reaching out. Use the questions on the Informational Interviewing page to prepare a list of questions to ask.
Update your resume and have it reviewed before connecting. Meet with a career counselor to have them look over your resume or LinkedIn profile.
- Have a Conversation
When connecting, make sure to provide some information about yourself. Let them know that you'll be graduating soon, what your skills and interests are, and the type of opportunity or organization you are searching for.
Ask your contact for advice on entering their field or how to find out about employment opportunities at their organization. Build a rapport and ask for other contacts that may be beneficial to connect with.
- Follow Up
Always be respectful and appreciative for the time your contact has taken to network with you. Sending a thank you note after a conversation builds on your connection.
- Manage the Connection
Create a file to keep important contact information and notes on your conversations. Develop a timeline for following-up.
- Grow your Network
Networking is a continuous process. Continue to seek out others to connect with and manage your existing contacts by keeping them informed with your progress and any new developments. Send an email with a helpful resource that you've used, meet for coffee to touch base, or schedule a time to call and check-in.
- Set Networking Goals
Think of a realistic target number of new contacts to make and how frequently you wish to connect with existing ones. Reaching out to too many people at once does not make for a meaningful connection.