By: Audrey Fancher, Career Center Program Assistant
We get it—networking sounds intimidating. But when you think of it as simply connecting with people, that sounds more doable, right?
Informational interviews are a fantastic way to explore potential careers and connect with professionals, which you can read about here. But there are other ways to network, too!* Check out these six ways you can broaden your approach to networking.
Make the most of your on-campus jobs, summer jobs, research opportunities and internships!
People that you meet in your position maybe be able to help you along the way. Whether it be the customers that you serve, your supervisor, or your coworkers, invest in getting to know people. A friend of mine was working in customer service at the Apple Store for about a year, and it was impressive how many business cards she was given, and how many informational interviews came as a result of her genuine, intentional customer interactions.
Cold email people that you look up to.
Instead of cold calling, “cold emailing” is reaching out to someone that you don’t know. This TED talk outlines a simple, yet effective format to connect. Last year, I followed his structure in reaching out to an organization I admired based in NYC, and had a phone interview with them three days later! You can apply these same principles to the concept of networking and informational interviews, too.
Join clubs and organizations here on campus—and attend their events!
The University of Portland has DOZENS of clubs and organizations for students. Regardless of your interests and majors, there is probably a club for you! Many clubs host special events where you could connect with professionals or alumni in that industry. Check out the list of clubs and organizations here at UP.
Meet with professors and other staff on campus
Here at UP, we have some brilliant minds and lifetimes’ worth of experiences on campus! Tap into the wealth of knowledge that professors have, and learn about subjects that interest you! Whether or not you have been in their class, professors will be excited to talk about their work and share about their field of expertise. And, they might have suggestions of who else you should connect with in the industry. 🙂
Join a professional group here in the Portland Metro-Area
As senior Christina Beningfield wrote last week, “Start networking, attend events, make connections on LinkedIn… I’m already overwhelmed! It can be so difficult to take that step and start establishing yourself outside of our comfortable, albeit stressful, college bubble. For those ambitious undergrads who aren’t 21, cocktail hour events obviously aren’t an option. Coffee meetups? Where do we find those?” There are groups throughout the city where you can meet cool people who have the kinds of jobs that you’d love someday. Groups are a structured way to connect with those individuals. Check out this blog post to see a list of organizations in our area.
Reach out to friends and family
Well-intentioned relatives and family friends love to ask, “What are you doing next summer? What do you want to do after you graduate? Do you have an internship next summer?” Instead of feeling defensive and overwhelmed, invite them into the conversation! This low-key method of networking is easy because you just need to be yourself and share your passions and interests with everyone that you talk with. Who in their professional network could they connect you with? You might be surprised who your Uncle Stan knows from his industry! Your time at home over Winter Break could be the perfect way to continue connecting with people and exploring career options.
If you need any tips for being a captivating conversationalist, “7 Questions That Lead to Interesting Conversation” is a short article with some excellent tips. We have lots of resources on our website as well.
Now, go forth and network. You got this!
*Adapted from the article: “The 5 Best Ways To Network While You’re Still In College“