Why is networking important?
Networking is a great way to connect with people and groups with similar interests and share valuable information. It can also help you in your future career. While skills and experience are important, hiring managers often favor people they know and trust or people who have been referred by a trusted source before considering other candidates. As a student of SBS, we recommend that you get comfortable with networking and we’ve included some helpful techniques, best practices, and resources to get started.
Who is in your network?
- fellow students
- graduate or former students
- school administrators
- individuals met at seminars, workshops, conferences, etc.
- fellow workers
- online community friends
- members of your church or clubs
- people at your gym
Below are some easy-to-learn techniques recommended in Networking for College Students and Graduates by Dr. Michael L. Faulkner and Andrea Nierenberg:
- Bring business cards.
- Have an “icebreaker” opening line.
- Develop your branding statement. Some people call this an elevator pitch because you should be able to finish it on a short elevator ride.
- Do your research and know something about your potential network associates.
- Have a list of “get-to-know-you” questions prepared and practice them beforehand so you sound natural.
- Develop a list of idea-generator topics (small talk).
- Take a deep breath, visualize yourself engaged in a thoughtful, interesting, and memorable conversation, and dive into a group.
- Look for a designated host or greeter and start there.
- If you and a contact have your hands free, offer a firm (not bone-crushing) handshake, and introduce yourself.
- If you are seated at a table, start a conversation with the person to your right or left.
- Have an exit strategy (a break-the-contact comment) that allows you to end conversations gracefully.
- Set a networking goal for every event or activity you attend.
- Follow up with new contacts with a thank-you.
Handshake is NAU’s online recruiting system where students can connect with employers and search for job openings. For more information and resources on networking, visit Career Development.