Networking: Where and How to Begin

Networking is so frequently talked about as the fundamental pathway to opportunities, but where do you begin? Whether you are a freshman student or a fresh graduate, understanding the journey of networking can be a game changer. Let’s dive right in!

1. Understand the “WHY” of Networking

Before you start attending events, reflect on your goals and intentions:

  • Are you seeking an internship or job opportunity?
  • Are you looking for mentorship in a specific field or industry?
  • Are you expanding on your professional connections?

2. Start With Who You Know

  • College Connections: Professors, lab supervisors, alumni, classmates, peers in campus engagement and organizations, internship and research advisors
  • Current and Former Coworkers and Supervisors

3. Attend Events and Workshops

  • On-campus networking events
  • Conferences
  • Workshops

4. Expand your Social Media Engagement

  • LinkedIn: Engage in posts, join groups, and send messages to 2nd and 3rd-degree connections, or someone you would like to connect with – remember this is the purpose of LinkedIn. Do make sure your profile is up to date!
  • Twitter and Other Social Media: Follow Industry leaders and join discussions.

5.Volunteer and Join Professional Organizations/Associations

  • Volunteering or causes within organizations aligned with your professional interests can potentially introduce you to like-minded individuals in the field.
  • Joining a professional organization or institute, provides you with access to exclusive events, conferences, blogs and articles, resources, and ultimately networking opportunities.

6. Engage in Reciprocal Relationships and Keep Nurturing Your Connections

  • Remember networking is a two-way street. If you receive guidance, find a way to pay it forward. Offer an introduction or express gratitude
  • Always be in touch with your authentic self
  • Check-in periodically – share articles or information
  • Celebrate their achievements and milestones – social media is a medium to continue engaging with connections

7.Be Prepared for Rejection

  • Not everyone has the time or interest to connect and that is completely okay!
    • Be respectful and understanding
    • Timing can be a factor – perhaps a connection may be more valuable or responsive in the future (be mindful with the frequency of reaching out to connect)

The journey of networking is continuous throughout your academic career and entire professional lifespan. As you move through your career journey, your networking needs and style my change over time. Remember that it is about building genuine professional relationships, so start your journey with clearer intentions, open-mindedness, authenticity, and a genuine desire to connect and learn more.

Enjoy exploring opportunities and venturing through doors opening in places you did not even know existed!

Ingrid Beute – Pitt Career Consultant

By Ingrid Beute
Ingrid Beute Career Consultant, Engineering & Science & Career Champions Program Coordinator