Is networking an art? Guest speakers, professors, and alumni at the SOJC will tell networking is important. They say connecting with the right people can open doors to internships, post-grad jobs, and other industry connections. However, It can be a daunting task for students.
When I first arrived at UO, I was terrified to even go to my professor's office hours. Now, after three years in the SOJC and joining multiple different student groups such as Allen Hall Public Relations and Allen Hall Media, I have gained the confidence to build my network through events, guest speakers, and professional development trips.
My top four tips for networking:
Seize The Opportunity
Whatever event or trip you are on, take the opportunity to introduce yourself and spark a connection with somebody. Leave them with your business card (if you have one) so they have your contact information. This Forbes article shares their top tips for making a good first impression at an event. My favorite tip from that article is to be yourself and don’t overdo it.
Always Follow Up
Make sure to always follow up with the person you spoke with. Ragan shares the best ways to follow up after a networking event. An easy way is to invite them to connect via LinkedIn and write a personal message to go with it. Try to add in something specific you talked about. This will show you were genuinely interested in speaking with them and they are more likely to remember you. If not LinkedIn, send them an email thanking them for their time, and always leave room for speaking with them in the future.
Informational Interviews Are Your Friend (and aren’t scary!)
Informational interviews are a way for you to ask an industry professional questions about their work, company and how they got to where they are today. Alumni are your best bet to get started, because there’s an automatic connection there. Ducks love to help other Ducks. Make sure to be prepared, and read PRSSA Do’s and Don'ts for informational interviews. Remember, this likely won’t end with a job offer, but you will come out with more knowledge about the potential field you want to work in, and a legitimate connection.
Treat Every Connection as An Opportunity
You never know who the person you’re talking to may know and can connect you with. You may find that they know the person who currently has your dream job, and can get you set up to speak with them. Even if you didn’t make the best connection with somebody, find something that you learned from them to carry with you to your next networking event.