February 23, 2019
Networking, at first, sounds like a foreign experience. Many recent college graduates dread networking and think they are no good at it. In reality, networking should not be as daunting as it seems if one goes about it the right way. It’s simply about meeting other people with the intent to start a professional connection. You may already be making similar connections with other college students by exchanging contact or social media information in class with the hope of making friends or forming a study group. Read on for a guide to networking for the soon-to-graduate or recently graduated:
Where to Start Your Networking
You just graduated, congratulations! You are now an alumnus of a university, and that’s part of who you are professionally: a college graduate. Don’t cut ties to your school and career center. Check alumni newsletters from you school or subscribe to any alumni newsletter. Make sure to follow your major’s department online. Be on the lookout for alumni career fairs, networking events, and reunions.
If you didn’t share your contact information with professors before you graduated, do so within three to four months. Share with them the phone number and email address you can be reached at post-graduation. Keep a connection to professors by taking interest in them and updating them on any of your professional developments, graduate school or a new job. If you don’t have work references, professors can also provide excellent references when applying to jobs.
Are you currently volunteering at an organization? Make sure you’re networking there! We have tips on networking within a volunteer setting. Additionally, consider a membership to professional associations, which host panels and events great for meeting people.
If you have a hard time securing a job post-graduation, networking will increase the odds of finding job opportunities. One fun way to network is to conduct informational interviews, or meeting over lunch to discuss someone’s experience in a field. Treat networking as a routine in your life, so even when you are fully employed, attend work events and seek out opportunities to connect with other professionals. Read our advice on working with recruiters, so they also become part of your professional network.
When you evaluate all the organizations that you are connected to, you will find that there is potential to grow or deepen those connections.
How Should You Network?
Practice your elevator pitch, a quick, formal introduction that answers the question “Who are you”? Start to memorize and own this introduction. Whenever you meet someone new, you want to introduce yourself with confidence. As you craft this elevator pitch, think of the following:
Be creative in your message. “3 years’ experience with small businesses” is more memorable than “experienced.” While you network you will meet people from different fields, and you shouldn’t assume you won’t have any shared interests. Your elevator pitch should be able to take the conversation in multiple directions.
When a conversation has gone well and right before it bubbles down, share your business card. If you don’t have a business card from work or are not yet employed, consider investing in one. Limit the information on your business card to items that stay constant: your name, your personal email, and phone number and refrain from including anything that may change within the next year such as your job title or your work email address.
Share your LinkedIn or social profile once you have secured a business card. Having a strong presence on LinkedIn can help you meet new people and find new job openings. Read this infographic for quick tips on networking.
When Should You Network?
For the more introverted, networking can seem daunting, or an onerous demand. Make networking easier on yourself by treating networking as a chance to make a new friend. If you have trouble figuring out where to stand at an event, or thinking of name tricks and conversations starters, read up on networking at Science of People. Networking will get easier as you begin practicing at events.
Networking is a practice that will follow you throughout your career. No matter if you are happily or begrudgingly employed, in school or out of school, networking can be done at any time. This is great news because studies consistently show that candidates for a job are found internally rather than online. By knowing people, you increase your chances of being hired and of staying employed. Your city’s professionals are waiting to meet you, so ready that handshake!