Networking is the process of discovering and making use of connections between people. These network connections can be as informal as talking to your family and friends, or as formal as attending a career event with prospective employers.
Networking is useful for gathering information about a certain industry, organization, career path, or skill. Networking is about building relationships with people who can provide information and advice, and may lead to future opportunities.
One great networking resource is the MIT Alumni Advisor Hub, an online platform to connect with alumni for career conversations and informational interviews.
How to Network
- Identify Your Networks. Making a list of people you know will help you to realize you may already have a strong foundation for your network.
Work / Internships
Family / Friends
Activities / Hobbies
- Expand Your List. Identify others you have met inside and outside MIT, and methods for how to meet new people who may have similar interests or expertise. Below are some events/opportunities to do so:
At MIT Outside MIT Company presentations Professional associations/conferences Career Fairs Local/regional career fairs and events MIT Alumni Advisor's Hub Community groups Residence hall / living groups Online groups: LinkedIn, Facebook Student groups Industry meetups
- Assess Your Goals. What are you hoping to get out of your networking experience? Understanding your intentions can clarify for you who would be most beneficial to connect with.
- Create Your Elevator Pitch. Develop a 30-second script you can use to introduce yourself to people. Repeat it until you're comfortable because you will need to use it at a moment’s notice. You may want several versions to use depending on the audience.
Start by defining the goal of the pitch: are you looking for a job? researching an industry or organization? building a relationship with a recruiter? This helps identify the information it will be essential to convey. You'll likely want to include your major and year of graduation, as well as your relevant interests and experiences. Mention accomplishments, your top skills and, if possible, anything unique that will help you be remembered. It's ok to credit or compliment the other team members from any group projects you might mention, and it can help to end with a question to engage your listener and start a conversation.
Here's an example: “Hi, my name is Robert Robertson. I’m graduating soon from MIT with a Bachelor’s in Computer Science in June. I’m interested in developing software that helps people live healthier lives, and I've interned at a couple of healthcare startups developing web apps in Ruby. I worked on an iOS app that tracks sleep cycles for a class project and my team took first place in a competition of twenty teams. I’ve been looking at jobs at Fitbit because I really like their fitness apps, and was hoping you could tell me more about your experience working there.”
- Prepare. Prepare for networking opportunities like you would a job interview: do research in advance on the person, company and/or industry, and show up dressed to impress with a list of questions to ask. You may even decide to practice answering some basic interview questions so you feel more confident.
- Make Contact. An informational interview is a meeting where you ask for information and advice rather than employment. The job seeker gathers information on the field, finds employment leads, and expands his or her professional network. Basically, introduce yourself, ask questions, obtain referrals, and close.
- Follow Up. Be sure to follow up with an email or letter thanking the person for his/her time. This professional courtesy goes a long way.
- Reflect. Keep networking notes. Keep track of who you speak with and when, and set reminders to follow up if you want to nurture the relationship.
- Repeat. Try to end informational interviews with names of more contacts. The more you network, the more you learn and the more opportunities you can create. Building genuine relationships through networking is a lifelong practice, so master your techniques and go explore.