Networking involves making connections and maintaining relationships with people who support you throughout each phase of your career. Your network of contacts may help you to choose the right career, find rewarding opportunities, develop your skills, and achieve your goals.
Networking may seem daunting, but start now by following these easy steps:
- Make your passions and goals known to peers, relatives, and professors and ask for guidance or referrals.
- Connect with thousands of alumni through social and professional networking sites including LinkedIn and AlumniFire.
- Meet new people at events on campus and throughout the Washington, D.C. region.
- Make yourself known by actively participating in on-campus organizations and professional associations related to your field.
- Build relationships and gain relevant experience by volunteering with organizations that match your passions and career goals.
- Stay in touch with former supervisors and colleagues by sending periodic updates and meeting up.
- Arrange informational interviews with professionals in your field and ask about what they do, how they got there, and what advice they have.
Seven Secrets of Successful Networking
- Prepare an elevator speech. When introducing yourself, be prepared to share your academic and professional achievements and intended goals in 30 – 60 seconds.
- Act with confidence even if you feel shy or intimidated, and always speak passionately about your interests and accomplishments.
- Communicate in a warm and sincere way. Learn people’s names, make eye contact, and listen intently.
- Follow through when you are referred to someone, and always thank your contacts in writing for their time and assistance.
- Look for ways that you and your contacts can help each other, and build a reputation of being a resource for others.
- Create a system for tracking contact information and notes—Excel or Google spreadsheets work well.
- Manage your “online image” and be cautious about what employers might find.
(Secrets shared by Career Center advisors and School of Communication Professor Chris Palmer)
LinkedIn is the world’s largest online professional networking site. It is a critical brand-building tool that allows you to:
- Build and manage your professional presence.
- Connect professionally with classmates, faculty, family, work or internship colleagues, and other key contacts.
- Find new career opportunities.
- Manage and maintain your list of professional contacts.
Most professionals use and take LinkedIn seriously. A strong, polished LinkedIn profile can set you apart in the job market. Learn how to network and build your online brand with LinkedIn.
Twitter is a real-time information network that connects you to the latest stories, ideas, opinions, and news. If you are looking for internships, full-time jobs, or networking opportunities, you should use Twitter to improve your industry knowledge and social media marketing skills.
Active job seekers should follow a targeted list of companies on Twitter and tweet regularly. A professional tweet should engage employers and industries of interest. Your professional tweets should ask questions, address trending topics, and/or demonstrate your subject-matter knowledge and interest. Learn how to network and build your online brand with Twitter.
It is still common for working professionals to exchange business cards in networking settings. While students are not expected to have business cards, some students find it useful to order them for networking purposes. Business cards can be ordered through companies like Vistaprint, UPS, or FedEx Office, to name a few. The Career Center does not work with or endorse one vendor over another.