Networking as a graduate student can seem intimidating, there is often a lot of pressure to find the right job. Much like networking after undergrad there are lots of things you can do to get your name out there and build your network. Below are 9 strategies to network as a graduate student:
Many of these individuals know others in the field and can connect you. They may be able to do an informal introduction or recommend you for a job that is posted. Make sure to express your career goals to these individuals so they can keep you in mind for jobs that they hear about.
Events such as conferences and trainings are a great place to meet people in the field. Make sure you sit next to new people, introduce yourself to others in between sessions, and always be ready with your elevator pitch and questions! If you have the opportunity to present a poster or facilitate a session, those are also excellent ways to get your name out there and make connections.
Many member-based groups welcome student involvement and attendance at their events. Some even offer discounted memberships and organized mentoring and leadership development programs to students. Consider these associations as very fertile ground to cultivate your professional network for the present and the future. In-person networking garners huge benefits and moves relationships forward much faster than a solely online effort.
Conduct informational interviews with professionals at your target organizations to get tips and advice for landing a position within the organization. Check out this informational interview tutorial from Quint Careers for tips on how to request a meeting and how to make the most of a conversation.
Professionals utilize online tools and communities to develop and solidify their business networks. LinkedIn is an example of a widely-accepted professional networking site. It is meant to increase your exposure rapidly and is easy to use for researching meaningful connections. Companies also use social media as a way to find out more about job applicants. A few keys to getting started; Clean up your existing social media to include only pictures and posts that promote your professional brand. This goes for all social media you are involved with, not just the site on which you are actively networking. And, proactively connect with others. You can start by looking for people who attended your high school and college. Include alumnae as well as individuals you already know.
Monitor their job sites weekly and follow these organizations on social media to watch for news and job postings. Search for contacts and companies that make sense for your desired route. Conduct a search by company name, industry, title, etc. On LinkedIn, most industries list multiple groups that you can join as well, helping to target your efforts in a more precise direction and to a smaller online group.
Attend career fairs and other networking events
Have a goal in mind when attending a networking event. Some example goals are; Get business cards from 5 new contacts, talk to 3 different companies about your career interests, or find something in common with every person you speak with. This way you can go in with a plan rather than feeling overwhelmed by the need to network.
There are many job postings throughout the year so keep an eye on those sites. You can also schedule a meeting with your career advisor to talk about your career goals. Then, if they see a post that aligns with your goals they can send it to you.
Let them know your ideal job and ideal organization type. Your network includes faculty, classmates, friends, former supervisors, colleagues and relatives, even if those individuals are not in your field. People in your existing network will often help you uncover great job leads and contacts.
Whatever way works best for you to network, go do it! It is never to early to start networking. Even the little things, like linked in, can potentially lead to a job. Even if you do not feel fully prepared, start the process today! It is better to do something than wait till the chaos of finals and graduation to network and search for a job. Your future self will thank you!
In order to take advantage of these networking strategies there are some things you should do to prepare: