The richest people in the world look for networks, and everyone else looks for work—or so it’s been said. Networking can help you find a job, a leadership position, a research opportunity, and more. But what is networking? The concept seems both obvious and abstract. And how should you do it?
What is networking?
Networking is interacting with others to exchange information and contacts. The most successful networkers build genuine relationships and give more than they receive.
Be warned: People can sense desperation a mile away. If you enter a situation with only one goal in mind (making a connection you can later use to your advantage), people will know.
- Network before you need a network. Set the groundwork early with professors, supervisors (in jobs and internships), and other professionals at your school or in your community.
- Don’t focus on your personal agenda.
- Treat everyone respectfully. If you think someone is “just” a clerk or assistant, you risk getting a reputation for acting entitled.
- Make two meaningful connections each semester. Think of how many contacts you’ll acquire before you graduate.
- Keep in touch! Be sure to keep in touch with your network: Ask what’s new with them and share your updates. Your contacts will remember you and can help make connections if something comes up.
- Start building your profile on LinkedIn, and develop it through your student career by adding projects and relevant experiences.
Need more advice? These resources can help improve your networking skills.