By Mai Luong, UCS Student Ambassador
What does networking mean to you? According to online definitions, networking is to connect or to operate with a system of interconnected people. With that in mind, understanding how to network or even having a network is very important. That was the basis of the Nothing but NETworking presentation last week.The three tips I found most useful in the networking process: you must have a network, utilize your network, and be prepared to use your network anytime.
If you have a Facebook or Twitter, you have a network and if you’re using Facebook or Twitter, you’re networking! Facebook and Twitter are great for keeping in touch with family and friends, but if you want more of a professional networking site, LinkedIn is where you should be. If you have been to the University Career Services, you have probably heard of LinkedIn; LinkedIn is a well known and used in professional settings because it allows you to upload your resumes, present your interests, goals, and skills. If you are questioning on how you can get started on LinkedIn and expand your network, you can do simple things like joining an organization or introducing yourself to a complete stranger- who knows, that guy sitting beside you on the airplane may be your future employer. The main goal is to form a network and to maintain it by keeping in touch with the people in your network.
The next step is to put your networks into use. For example, if you are interested in learning more about becoming a research study coordinator and you know someone, who knows someone that is currently working as a research study coordinator, build up the courage to ask for an informational interview. Informational interviews are the perfect way to learn more about an occupation because being able to ask someone who has the first hand experience will definitely give you a better understanding as to whether or not you would like to continue on this track. It is not a good idea to pursue a goal if you are not fully informed of its advantages and disadvantages.
The last of the three important topics is be prepared to sell yourself anywhere, anytime - like in an elevator, perhaps. Be prepared to give your “elevator pitch” – where you are able to quickly and persuasively tell someone why you are the perfect person for the job. Yes, it may be difficult to tell someone of all your great accomplishments and elaborate on them, but this is an impressive skill to be able to think quick and narrow down the 2-3 related items you want to bring up in your pitch. You want to connect your past experiences and accomplishments to the job description as much as possible. At the end of the pitch, make sure you ask a few questions to show that you are interested and would like to learn more. To finalize the pitch, you end it with a firm, business handshake.
These are only three of the many tips of networking. Networking is easy and can be so helpful if you do it correctly. If you would like to get information on networking, come by the University Career Services where one of the counselors or a student ambassador, like myself, can help you. So do not wait any longer, come network with us!