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How can Students create a professional network?

Networking is an essential skill useful for any professional, regardless of their career path. It refers to developing and maintaining contacts and connections with people who might be helpful to you and your career.  Most of us network everyday as we exchange ideas, advice, contacts and referrals with others.

Networking is an opportunity to improve communication skills, learn about your field of interest, build relationships with professionals  in your field and possibly be referred for a job. If you can get connected with a contact at the company you will be interviewing with, it can certainly give you an edge and help you be better prepared.  

How can I build my network?

  • Take Advantage: Every encounter both personal and professional is a chance to network.
  • Be Assertive: Contact people even if you do not know them well. Consider using an email or telephone call to say, “Ashley Moore suggested that I contact you for advice (information) on the field of…”
  • Be Involved: Participate in professional and social activities and attend on and off-campus events. For example, at Brooklyn College attend events sponsored by academic departments, the Magner Center and Student Affairs/Student Organizations. This will increase your chances of meeting people. You never know what an encounter may lead to.
  • Get a BC Mentor: Join the Brooklyn College Alumni Mentor Program to get paired with a BC alum currently working in the career you wish to pursue. This is your chance to network and get career related information.
  • Alumni Associations: Join the Brooklyn College Alumni Association, your junior high, high school or any other organized alumni association for programs you participated in (summer camp, after school, community organization).
  • Ask for an Informational Interview from people in field or company of interest. Vault details how to have a productive informational interview.
  • Be Proactive: Building your network is on-going, not just when you need something. Friends, Family, Supervisors, Co-Workers, Coaches and Acquaintances- chat with these people casually (on the train, in the supermarket, social gatherings, etc.).  Most people enjoy talking about the work they do. 
  • Professor and other Faculty Members can provide a wealth of information about their encounters through their research or community involvement. 
  • Don’t Overlook the Web: Use the Internet to find alumni and other professional contacts
    • Do a Google search to find professional associations and organizations in your field. Become a member and attend its conferences and events. 
    • Use Google to find alumni and other professionals in your areas of interest.
    • Utilize Facebook and Linkedin to proactively reconnect with old acquaintances or make new contacts.
      • Linkedin.com is a free professional network with over 100 million members that helps you search for job opportunities and connect with past and present colleagues as well as alumni.
      • Meetup is the world’s largest network of local groups, with over 2,000 groups getting together in local communities each day.
    • You can use Twitter as your ongoing portfolio as well. Tweet about interesting projects you are working on.

How do I maintain my network?

  • Contact Lists: Organization is key. Every time you get a new business card add it to your address book or an online spreadsheet. Develop email distribution lists for your different groups of contacts.
  • Show Gratitude: Be gracious. Write a thank you letter to show your gratitude.
  • Give Back: Offer to help your network. For example, if a friend sends you a job opportunity that is of no use to you, forward it to members of your network who might be interested.
  • Meet in Person: Invite members of your network to lunch or drinks from time-to-time.
  • Keep Contact: Reach out to members of your network individually.  A “just wanted to say hi” email/phone call will do the trick. Birthdays, weddings, holidays and major events are also a good time to touch base with your network.

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