You’ve likely heard the term “networking” thrown around campus during fall recruiting if you’re a student or by your coworkers at the office. You’ve likely been told that networking is important for some reason, and that doing so will lead to new connections, career opportunities, and interests. But why is growing and strengthening your network so important, and how do you do it?
Why is Networking Important?
Reaching out to people who work in areas you’re interested in is a great way to learn more about different jobs. Not only can you hear about their day-to-day experiences at the firm or industry, but you can also learn about differences between firms. This insight will both help you figure out if certain paths are for you and might even provide a basis for your future interviews. Networking is great practice to learn how to speak more professionally, develop behavioral interview responses, and receive helpful advice for the interview process.
So Where Do you Begin?
Find the right people and their emails
- The first step to making connections is finding the right people to talk to, meaning individuals in your field or career of interest. These people can be alumni from your college, a result of a LinkedIn search on the company, research from company websites, or a personal introduction from a mutual friend.
- Once you establish this contact, make sure to keep a track of their emails and phone numbers in case you want to follow up in the future with more questions or life updates. They’ll be happy to hear about your progress!
Reach out and request a call
- Once you decide to reach out, make sure to write a concise and effective email to introduce yourself (see “How to Write Your Best Cold Email” here).
- When suggesting times to schedule the call, it’s easiest to suggest multiple time blocks for the other person to choose from. It also helps to include the time zone in case the person you are emailing is in a different one.
- People are very busy, so don’t become discouraged if they do not respond right away. Often times, they may have missed the email or intend to respond but haven’t gotten the chance to do so yet.
- Sending a follow up to your initial email is a gentle reminder and a way to put your email back to the top of their inbox.
Prepare for the call
- When preparing for the call, it is best to first research the firm and industry to provide yourself with some context. Then, write down a list of questions that you might want to ask based on what you’ve learned and what you want to hear more about. Lastly, prepare a brief introduction on yourself (your elevator pitch) so that the other person can get to know a bit about you at the beginning of the call.
- Make sure you are in a quiet environment with no distractions during the call. If it’s a video call, then make sure to be dressed appropriately in business casual clothing and have a neat background behind you.
- During the call, it helps to take notes on any important points that the person touches on so that you can review the tips afterwards.
- Always follow up a call with a thank you note. It’s a kind gesture of gratitude to thank the person for taking time out of their day to speak with you.
You don’t necessarily have to follow each of the six steps, and how may not even need to use all of them – they just serve as a guideline to help you make the most of your networking experience and build potential relationships. Best of luck with y