Tips to Develop Your Networking Skills
Networking requires time, patience and careful observation. Cultivate your relationships now; don’t wait until you need a job. The more you put into the networking relationship, the more you will get out of it. Give yourself plenty of opportunities to practice and refine your skills.
- Learn to talk about who you are and what you are seeking in everyday situations. You never know when a casual conversation might turn into a networking opportunity.
- Make a good impression quickly through an elevator pitch or professional introduction.
- Be brief and to the point about what you are hoping to achieve from the conversation.
- Try to get a business card, phone number, referral, etc. Some method of future contact or follow-up allows you to develop this further. If you say you’ll follow up, make sure you do it!
- Be gracious and send a thank-you note or express your gratitude for the networking assistance.
- Keep records to stay organized and focused; an Excel spreadsheet works nicely!
- Develop a personal brand. Know who you are and the value you bring to the relationship.
- Family, friends, neighbors.
- Employer presentations and events where you will learn something and where they will be interested in talking to you.
- Informational interviews with alumni and other professionals.
- Former co-workers as they migrate to other companies.
- Classmates and professors.
- Professional student groups and associations.
- Student clubs and organizations.
- Volunteer at Career Fairs or community events and let people see you in action.
- Social media tools such as LinkedIn and Facebook.
- Business Career Services coaches
- Don’t take a mobile phone call when with engaging with another person — it’s rude, especially true during an interview, site visit or other professional event.
- When leaving a voicemail, speak slowly and clearly so your message is clear; keep it short and leave your name and phone number to ensure a call back.
- Return calls the day they’re received, and if for some reason you can’t call back the same day, call within 24 hours.
- Make sure that the greeting for your answering machine and/or voice mail is appropriate, as employers often complain about greetings that include loud and/or obscene music, background noise, or are just generally unprofessional.
- Don’t use an unprofessional email address (e.g., firstname.lastname@example.org), as the recipient could delete the message thinking it’s spam or inappropriate material.
- Always include a meaningful subject line that makes it clear what will be covered in the message, such as “Jose Vega – confirming Friday interview time” or “U Finance Junior Seeking Information”
- Always include your full name and contact information in each email.
- Remember that there is no guarantee that an email is private.
- When replying to a message, always include the previous message in your response, as keeping the thread of the discussion together will help both you and your contact follow the course of your email discussion.
- Always re-read and spell-check every email before you hit “send.”
- Every time you communicate with an employer, be as professional as possible.
- Always use correct grammar when speaking or writing.
- Check with your contacts to see what their preferred contact method is so you can communicate with them most effectively.
Think of your LinkedIn profile as an interactive business card. It’s a summary of your professional experience. A strong profile is a key differentiator in the job market.
Craft an informative profile headline and professional summary statement
- Your profile headline gives people a short, memorable way to understand you. It should be your brand tagline. Student Example
- Write a summary. Represent your experience, qualifications and goals in short blocks of text for easy reading. Consider putting your personal brand, what you represent that adds value, into three words.
- Take the time to find profiles of people who hold the kinds of positions you want.
- Make sure your profile is full of keywords to attract a recruiter’s attention.
Display an appropriate photo and school name
- Get a professional picture, of you alone. This is not Facebook; no family, casual, party, or puppy pictures.
- Get a high-quality photo at the University Career Fairs; you will already be in a suit.
- Under Education section, select David Eccles School of Business instead of University of Utah.
Fill your “Specialties” section with keywords. It is the place to include key words and phrases that a hiring manager might search to find a person like you. The best place to find relevant keywords is in job postings.
- Join groups and display the group badges on your profile. Join the Eccles School LinkedIn group and larger industry and professional groups related to the career you want to peruse.
- Check out the company page of any organization where you’d like to work and click “Follow Company.”
- Keep your profile up-to-date with internship experiences, completed projects, new certifications, student group leadership roles, etc.
- Check for new people to network with, and network with everyone!
- Contribute value-added content: find discussions in LinkedIn groups, comment on posts, offer your unique insights. A great way to stay on other people’s radar is to update your status and contribute relevant content to LinkedIn discussions weekly.
- Be prepared to introduce yourself in a professional manner. You never know whom you will meet on the bus, on the slopes or in a networking event.
- A strong professional introduction is a great way to summarize your professional story and highlight your most valuable skill sets.
- Your elevator pitch should express 1. Who you are 2. Why you are qualified 3. Why you are interested and 4. What you can do for them. Learn more and see examples here.
- Practice in front of a mirror, with friends or record yourself. You can also practice with your career coach and receive feedback on ways to improve. Rehearsing will make it easy for you to approach professionals with confidence.