Networking is the art of building and developing professional relationships. It is an important life skill which, when used effectively, can produce great results.
Most people learn about unadvertised positions through the network of contacts they build through internship experiences, family, friends, and involvement in their field. Remember the old adage, "It's not what you know, it's who you know."
Become an expert networker to get inside information and gain a competitive edge in your job search.
Developing Your Network
- Remember that everyone you meet could potentially become a networking contact. Ask for business cards and LinkedIn names.
- Join a professional association in your field.
- Use class projects and research papers as opportunities to get involved with organizations or professionals in your field of interest.
- Use the UB Mentor Network located in BullsEye to identify people in your field who can help with exploration and searching. Initiate an informational interview.
- Perfect your 30-60 second introduction and use it whenever you meet a potential new networking contact.
- Learn how to make small talk to broker new connections in any setting.
- Ask if your contacts can keep you posted regarding any job openings which may develop or direct you to individuals who may know of openings.
- Update your family, friends, former professors, advisors, coaches, employers, and co-workers on your job search prospects. They can better help you if they know of your interests and goals.
- Attend on- and off-campus networking events throughout the year that bring together current UB students with alumni professionals and employer recruiters. Visit our events calendar for more info.
Networking at Events
Career Services organizes on-campus and off-campus events throughout the year to bring together current UB students with alumni professionals and employer recruiters. These are great opportunities to build your network, learn more about organizations, and explore career fields.
Career Conversation events are held in New York City, Albany, Rochester, Buffalo and other locations during winter and summer breaks in the school year. These networking events offer you the opportunity to speak with UB alumni in a diverse range of career fields. Current UB students have found internships and full-time jobs, and have built up their professional networks through attendance at Career Conversations. Check the events calendar to find out when Career Conversations and other networking programs are scheduled to take place.
Making Conversation & Small Talk
- It's all about your attitude! Don't think of yourself as someone who is in need of a job; rather, be interested in learning about new people or organizations. Be a personable human being first, then a talented person looking for a job.
- Look for people who are alone first as it's harder to get into a conversation that is already happening. Don't break into a conversation of 2 people; if 3 or more are talking together it is easier to join that group.
- Smile and reach out to shake hands as you approach a new person. Introduce yourself and start out with a friendly question such as "What brings you here?"
- If you are wearing a name tag, place it on your right side, so that when somebody shakes your hand, it is easier to read.
- After learning a new contact's name, try to use it in your conversation by saying it at the end of a question you ask them. It will be easier to remember if you use it a few times throughout your conversation.
- Come prepared with 2-3 relevant topics to talk about. Be ready to answer questions like, "So what's new with you? or "What has been keeping you busy lately?"
- Show an interest in the other person. Ask questions that will get the other person talking so you can connect to their interest and lives such as, "How did you get started at this company or in the field?" Where did you go to college? Major?" (Note: Don't ask when they graduated. They may be sensitive about their age.)
- If it is not obvious, ask, "How are you connected to this event?" or "How did you hear about this event?"
- Listen for cues of how you can help the person and make a connection.
- Keep your eyes and ears open - there's nothing wrong with subtly eavesdropping on the questions asked and answered. Be an active participant to maximize your experience.
Networking Online: Using LinkedIn
LinkedIn is pegged as the world's largest professional networking site, with more than 135 million members. It's a virtual "resume" of sorts that includes details of your skills and previous experiences. It allows you to manage your professional identity, build your professional network by making online connections, and access career opportunities. Many employers use LinkedIn to recruit candidates for job/internship openings. It's also a way to connect with former supervisors and co-workers, explore an area of interest, and put yourself out there in professional cyberspace!
How to Use LinkedIn:
- To get started, simply create a new LinkedIn account or register as a student .
- Join LinkedIn groups that are tied to professional associations in your career field of interest.
- Search for people on Linkedin who have job titles or work in fields or at companies that interest you. View their profiles to learn about how you could take a similar career path.
- Search for jobs on Linkedin and research companies in industries or geographical locations of interest.
- Go to the "More" tab, click on "Skills" and search by skills (e.g. computer, technical, etc.) that you have. See professionals, companies, groups and jobs related to that skill.
- To prepare for an interview, use Linkedin to research the company and even the professionals that will be interviewing you.
- Look at many Linkedin accounts of people in fields that interest you to see examples of good accounts. Format (but do not copy!) your account after your professional role models.
- Create a professional-sounding headline such as "Doctoral Candidate in Materials Science" or "Aspiring Ultrasound Imaging Scientist."
- Use a professional looking picture that is crisp and well lit (not just from your webcam).
- Obtain three recommendations from peers, colleagues, or supervisors to make your profile one-hundred percent complete.
- Only connect with people that you know, such as friends of family members who work in professions that interest you, current or previous work colleagues, supervisors, and classmates.
- When sending an invitation to connect, always customize your invitation. Why do you want to connect with this person?
- Network Intelligence Gathering , from CollegeGrad.com
- Networking , from Sloan Career Cornerstone Center
- The Art of Networking , Quintessential Careers
- Networking to Enhance Your Job Search – from the Riley Guide
- The Fine Art of Small Talk , by Debra Fine
- Networking-Meet the Job, Internship or Career of Your Dreams: PDF (62KB) | Word (35KB)