How do I network?
Are you graduating soon and hoping to build professional connections, or new to UVic and hoping to get a head start on your career? I know from my experience, networking can seem a bit daunting, but it’s an invaluable way to meet people in your field. Like most things, networking gets easier with practice so, even if it’s not your favourite thing to do, give it a try. You may even have fun!
Throughout my degree at UVic, I’ve been to a few conferences, including: Leading Change Canada, Globe 2014 and Impact. I’ve attended local networking events such as Green Drinks and the CRD‘s Resilient Breakfast Series. These are the tips I have picked up along the way:
1. Set up a LinkedIn Profile. LinkedIn is social media platform to build a network of professional connections. My fellow student blogger, Lindsay, has written an excellent post on the reasons to start a LinkedIn account.
2. Do your research: I like to find out the event expectations ahead of time, in order to feel prepared, focus on meeting people and enjoy the event. Research might include dress code and event format.
3. Be ready to introduce yourself (the elevator pitch). I like to have a few things ready to say about myself such as: my educational background, my work experience and career aspirations.
3. Remember names: This is a key one. During introductions, I do my best to repeat the name a few times throughout the conversation, or in my head, to help me remember. People really appreciate it when you remember their names and it’s a great way to make a good impression.
4. Prepare questions: Write down, or think of, a few questions to ask people to ignite interesting conversations. They can be simple, like: “How did you get started in this industry?” or “What brings you to the event today?”.
5. Bring business cards. Many students make business cards with their basic contact information and their degree program. I printed my business cards at Metropol, you can also get cards at ZAP on campus. Here are some tips on how to make student and recent grad business cards.
6. Bring a notebook and a pen. It’s great to have writing tools in case you need to jot down a few notes. A cell phone works too, but I find paper more efficient so I’m not fumbling with my phone while trying to talk with someone.
7. Ask for business cards: If you want to keep in touch, be sure to ask for a business card. I write down quick notes from our conversations on the cards. If I want to follow up later, I I can reference our previous discussions. This came in handy during Globe 2014 because I had collected about 40 business cards by the end of the week!
8. Follow up: If you make a valuable connection and want to say in touch, follow up as soon as you can (ideally 24-48 hours after meeting).
- Send an email to say it was nice to meet them.
- Add them on LinkedIn.
- Say thank you for providing advice or feedback.
- Inquire about volunteer opportunities.
Good luck with your future networking endeavours!