How to Network

You may not know it, but your personal-professional network is already quite large.  It includes family members, family friends, peers, classmates, social organizations, clubs, advisors, professors, internship supervisors, past employers, co-workers, and recent graduates. By cultivating your immediate network, you gain access to an extended professional network.  Here's how to develop and extend your network: 

  • Tell family, friends, other students, and immediate contacts about your career interests. Ask who they know that you might be interested in learning about or meeting if they would introduce you. 

  • Share relevant contacts from your network with others and you will usually find such favors returned to you in kind. 

  • Join professional associations in your field and attend conferences. These are excellent networking resources, both online and in-person. Google “professional associations” and the name of your field, and you’ll find many options.  Your professors and teaching assistants can suggest the ones most appropriate for you. Many have student membership prices. 

  • Contact former employers, direct supervisors and internship sponsors.  Describe your professional interests today and ask if they can suggest contacts. 

  • Conference with faculty members, who often have connections with local businesses and employers in their field.  

  • Attend a lecture or read an article by a faculty member or person in your field.  Contact the person and express your interest in their topic and let the conversation develop. 

  • Reach out to a company or organization directly to ask well-researched and appropriate questions. 

Once you have identified potential networking contacts, the next step is to speak with them. An informational interview is a good low-pressure way to begin a conversation that can provide you with first-hand information about a career, trends in that field, details on hiring, or insight on the specific skills or qualities that employers are looking for.  

Key Networking Methods