Step 3: Increase your contact base
Now that you've identified your first ring of contacts, think about people your first ring might know and ask for an introduction.
Some other ways to meet new professional network contacts include:
Get involved on campus. This helps you develop useful and valuable skills to market yourself and allows you to meet new students and campus community members with interests similar to yours. Get to know professors outside of your classes because they can be a valuable resource, as well.
Gain relevant experience through internships, volunteering or on- and off-campus jobs. Get to know new people (colleagues and supervisors) on a professional level. For more information, visit our experiential education page.
Use social networking sites like LinkedIn to build an effective, professional presence.
Attend professionally focused events offered on campus, in your hometown and/or a city where you'd like to live and work. The Career and Professional Readiness Center also offers various professional events throughout the school year.
Join a relevant professional association and attend regional and national conferences and events to meet professionals in your field.
Step 4: Start talking
Now that you have a list of people to talk to, it's important to learn a few networking etiquette rules and tips.
Networking does NOT mean asking for a job. When you start talking, you are seeking to gain information about specific careers, professional contacts and possible opportunities. You are building relationships that will serve as a solid foundation for your professional development.
Maintain regular (but not excessive) contact with different people in your network. Talk to everyone!
Share your professional interests and goals when meeting or talking with your contacts, but don't be all about yourself. Ask for and provide advice. Be willing to serve as a resource in return.
Be thankful. If someone does something nice for you, recognize it by thanking them! Professionally written e-mails work, but you can add a memorable, personal touch by sending a neatly hand-written thank you note to someone who helped you.
Help others. Introduce people you know with similar interests. If you find something that might be of interest to someone else, share it with them. They will appreciate it greatly and will be much more likely to think of you and return the favor when they know something.
Always be polite and respectful, especially when it comes to others people's time.