Beyond career fairs you will have a number of opportunities to connect with employers, alumni, and friends of the university who could be real catalysts to helping you define and launch your career goals. Networking requires action and a willingness to share information over time to form a professional contact. It’s estimated that somewhere between 50-80% of internships and jobs are gained through networking, so consider giving it a try! Start developing this important career and life skill by taking a look at the resources available to help you build and maintain a powerful network.
Tips for Networking:
- It takes practice- Networking is about communicating and connecting with people; not every conversation will be smooth.
- Do some research about your contact – Review their LinkedIn profile and current company website in order to prepare some questions.
- Be able to articulate why you are reaching out and how it relates to you and your goals.
- RELAX – Be professional, but understand that you are talking with real people who have likely faced the uncertainty that comes from career exploration and searching.
- Keep an open-mind about what you may learn. It can be fun to meet people and hear about their experiences!
- Follow-up – Emails sometimes go to spam folders, so if you don’t hear back from someone, try again. Keep track of when you send your initial emails and give the person at least 1 week to respond before contacting them again.
- Maintain relationships by connecting and interacting with people and posts on LinkedIn or sending the occasional email message to reconnect and update one another about progress and changes.
- Show value and appreciation for the person’s time. Be clear about your “ask” and send a “thank-you” after the conversation.
Where do I network?
- LinkedIn – Check out the Bucknell University Page and then click “Alumni”. This will give you a data set of everyone on LinkedIn with Bucknell University in their Education section. This includes alumni and current students. Sort by location, company, major, and more!
- BucknellConnect.com– This site is exclusively for Bucknellians and contains the Alumni Directory (60,000+people!). Bonus: Many alumni have activated their profiles and noted that they are “willing to help” others. Use this site to find alumni contact information, but remember #4 above, be professional!
- Don’t forget about the clubs, honor societies, Greek organizations, athletic teams, and other groups that you belong to. The Alumni Directory on BucknellConnect.com allows for a variety of filters to help you narrow down your search.
- Events – whether in-person or virtual, many opportunities will be available to connect with professionals. Check the Handshake calendar for upcoming events, also don’t miss the opportunity to connect with guest speakers your professors may invite into your classroom.
What do I say when I reach out?
- Be Concise – 5-7 lines is typically sufficient
- Provide Clarity – how you found their name/information (Alumni Directory, LlinkedIn, referral, etc.)
- Your name
- Reason for writing (interested in their company, career field, etc. OR following-up from a previous conversation)
- Best time to be reached
- Phone number/Email
- Pique Their Interest – Provide a brief description of yourself or the commonality that you share, remind them of something you chatted about during a previous conversation.
- Request an Action – What information would you like to discuss and when/how would you like to connect with them?
Sample Networking Message
Hello. My name is __________ and I am a junior at Bucknell University. I found your name through the Bucknell Alumni Directory and thought I would reach out to you regarding my interest in __________. I am a __________ major and I am very eager to learn more about what you do at __________ as you are in an industry of interest to me and I would like to start to determine exactly what I want to pursue after graduation. Please let me know if you would have time to speak and we can schedule a mutually convenient time to connect. Thank you so much for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.
Access networking handouts, resources and short presentations on the CCA’s Moodle Networking Page.