Networking is one of the most effective tools to find opportunities!
Etiquette dinners and networking receptions provide the environment to build new relationships and maintain connections. Formal and informal mentorship programs provide opportunities to learn about your industry and expand your network. There are also many opportunities to network virtually using Handshake or LinkedIn.
Etiquette Dinners and Networking Receptions
Networking receptions are events where the sole purpose is to network with other professionals in your field or even outside of your field. Networking receptions typically involve hordevours and small talk. Networking requires you to walk up to professionals that you do not know and introduce yourself. It is crucial that you prepare an elevator pitch, a 30-second introduction that includes your name, background, and career interests/goals. You can learn more about how to create your own elevator pitch through this video. At the end of the conversation, it is beneficial to exchange business cards to maintain the connection after the event. You can order business cards through university printing or through external websites (pricing varies). You will be expected to follow-up with the individual after the event.
Proper table manners and the ability to engage with others is associated with professionalism. Potential employers want to see how you conduct yourself during dining and social situations. Even if a networking event isn’t a full course dinner, many networking situations involve food to some extent. Etiquette dinners allow you to practice eating a full course meal under the guidance of Sodexo General Manager, Peter Labrecque. Watch this video on basic dining etiquette before attending an etiquette dinner or some other formal dining event.
Career & Professional Development hosts etiquette dinners with various groups on campus and networking receptions throughout the year. Visit Handshake to view upcoming events.
Most people have heard of networking, but virtual networking typically requires more time and energy than in-person. Virtual networking should be intentional and strategize around a long-term goal. Virtual networking is often facilitated through online platforms such as social media, LinkedIn, or Handshake (Career Services platform used by many universities and employers). Twitter is the most common social media platform to be used for networking outside of LinkedIn.
Start the process by developing a list of your long-term goals, who you know, and who you would like to know (alumni in your field, HR representative of your favorite company, etc.). All of your decisions online should be based on reaching these goals. Join relevant groups online, create content to draw people to your profile, give advice and informally mentor others. Think about your online presence and what message you are giving to individuals from the outside.
It is acceptable to “cold message” professionals that you would like to connect with, but it is important to never start the conversation with a large request or favor. It is okay to ask for advice or request an informational interview about their role over the phone or Zoom, but you should not ask for a job outright. Once you have been connected with someone for some time and had the ability to build that relationship, it may be appropriate to ask for help finding a job.
Mentorship programs, such as the Leadership And Mentoring Program (LAMP), allow you to build a relationship with a professional in your industry. It is a great opportunity to learn more about your industry, ask questions, share advice, and build new connections. Mentorship can be both formal and informal, but both provide advantages to you.
Benefits of being a mentee include gaining insight and advice, feeling empowered and confident, developing strong communication and interpersonal skills, and discovering career goals. Benefits of being a mentor include developing your leadership abilities, volunteering and giving back to others, and connecting with students or others in your industry.
When you are paired with a mentor, keep these best practices in mind (APA, 2014):
- Establish appropriate boundaries and expectations in the beginning
- Take the initiative to schedule meetings to seek advice
- Accept and encourage honest feedback from mentor
- Clarify your career goals, needs, and wants