If you’re a college student, I bet you’ve heard the term “networking” at least a thousand times. Are you scratching your head about exactly what it means or how to network? Don’t worry, you’re not the only one. I talked to a few of our Campus Philly aficionados, including Jen Devor, Program Manager of Corporate Relations and Career Programs, and Chaney Harter, Program Manager of Student Communications and Social Media, about how to have the most fruitful networking experience. Their advice will definitely help you network at CP’s My Philly Summer Party or any other opportunities that come your way.
Broad networking is when you focus on making an array of connections. If you want to be the person who has connections all over the city, this way is for you!
The best way to practice broad networking is to attend networking events, such as career fairs, receptions, or social events. These events have a reputation for making people feel awkward but with our tips, you will leave any networking event feeling successful.
At an event, begin conversations with new people by introducing yourself and then sharing something relevant about yourself. Jen stands by these easy introductions:”Hi, my name is (insert name) and I am a marketing major at Drexel,” or “Sorry to interrupt, but I overheard you work at Company X and I am a big fan of your products.”
During introductions, make sure you pass out business cards. These will help others keep in touch with you after the event. Don’t have business cards yet? Campus Philly provides blank ones for students at its networking events.
After the conversation gets going, make sure that it’s not all about you. Ask questions about the other person, such as “What is your favorite part about your job?” or “How did you get to working as a manager at Company Z?” While the other person is talking, make sure you pay attention to what they are saying. Feel free to jot down some of their points on the back of their business card so you remember a few things about him or her. Don’t make it obvious that you are looking for a job by asking, “Is your company hiring?” Instead, just use the interaction to establish if this would be someone who you would want to connect with.
If they are someone you would want to connect with, follow up with them after the event with In-Depth Networking (see below) and Continuing the Connection (see below).
Breadth isn’t everything; there’s also depth. In-depth networking works by cultivating intentional relationships with specific people or organizations that you are interested in working for. Many times, hiring managers hire from the inside, meaning they hire people they already know instead of posting a job listing online, so it’s good to be on people’s radar when they are thinking of who to hire next.
In-depth networking is especially good for those who may find a large networking event intimidating, but it works for everyone. It can also be used to follow up with people you met through a large career fair or networking event.
Chaney used in-depth networking to land her job here. “I’m introverted, and I found events like career fairs or networking happy hours to be not the best fit for me. Instead, I decided to focus on conducting informational interviews with specific people who were at organizations I could see myself working with, and to keep up with those contacts over the long-term, so that they would have me in mind the next time they were looking to hire,” she said.
Her strategy worked. Chaney conducted informational interviews with a handful of contacts, including Ashlie Thornbury, Director of Corporate Relations and Career Programs at Campus Philly, and Jen Devor. Chaney had met Ashlie at Bryn Mawr after hearing her present at a career panel. She followed up with her, conducted informational interviews with both her and Jen, and kept up with them over the next few months. When the communications manager position at Campus Philly opened up, Jen reached out to Chaney and encouraged her to apply.
“Several months after started my job at Campus Philly, I had another contact that I had done an informational interview with the previous fall reach out to encourage to apply to a position at her company. So in-depth networking is definitely very rewarding, it’s just not instantaneous. You have to wait for positions to open up.”
Not sure how to keep up with contacts after the initial informational interview? See Continuing the Connection below.
Continuing the Connection
Successful networking continues after an event or informational interview is over. After you make new connections at a networking event, make sure to follow up with them on LinkedIn or by email. Jen suggested making a custom URL for your LinkedIn so it is easier for people to find you on the site. After an informational interview, you should follow up with an email thank you note and a handwritten thank you note.
What do you say in a follow-up note? Refresh the person’s memory on how you met and mention a tidbit about yourself. You can reference the notes you took on his or her business card to make the message more personal.
You might not get a response right away or at all, and that’s okay. People are busy! Just because you didn’t get a response doesn’t mean you should forget about him or her. Jen recommended to check up with him or her again in three to six months by sending a link to an article he or she would like or sharing something new about yourself.
With these tips, you’ll become a networking king or queen! So go forth, meet people, and build awesome connections.