With much uncertainty in the world and the job market due to the COVID-19 pandemic, networking is more important than ever. While we can’t meet and make connections face to face, for the time being, virtual networking is one of the best ways for students to stay connected with potential employers and gain valuable insights from industry professionals. To help you navigate the realm of virtual networking, Director of Career Services Christopher Perrello shares his top 5 tips to succeed in making connections digitally.
1. Set Goals for the Outcome of Networking
Always network with your end goals in mind and know exactly what you are looking for out of a connection. This may be an internship, admission to graduate school, a full-time job offer, or even just to learn more about a potential career path. You should be sure to know what you’re hoping to achieve when beginning to network virtually.
2. Do Your Research on the Company and Individual
Before you reach out or even begin to think about reaching out to industry professionals, you should first do research on the company. This allows you to ask more evolved questions to the person you’re reaching out to. It’s also important to understand how their hiring process works, what the hiring timeline is, and what the mission statement and goals of the company are. Then, the next step is to research the individual you’d like to connect with by looking at his or her LinkedIn profile and developing an understanding of the individual’s body of work.
3. Be Respectful When Reaching Out
Some of the most common mistakes that students make when reaching out to professionals are not sending personalized notes in LinkedIn connection requests and directly asking for a referral for a job or internship. It’s very important to remember that professionals have their own work schedules and that networking should be worth their time as well. Professionals are taking the time to help you learn more about their careers, which means that it is critical that you avoid being aggressive or demanding.
4. Use Your Resources at the iSchool
Use the valuable network of iSchool alumni who are eager to help you learn more about the industry and help get a foot in the door. Reach out to the career center if you are looking to connect with a specific company because there are alumni everywhere looking to connect with iSchool students. LinkedIn is another great resource for networking and you can use the filtering tools on company pages to identify iSchool alums who could be valuable connections. Faculty often stay in contact with students who have graduated and are working for desirable companies, so they can be another great resource to help connect you with industry professionals.
5. Ask Your Network to Connect you with Other Professionals
Networking is not a static action! It develops and cultivates over time. As you begin to develop more of a relationship with a connection, you can ask about other people who may be of help at another company or in a different career area. Alumni love to brag about the Syracuse Orange name, and are often happy to help put you in touch with other professionals they know.
Virtual networking can seem intimidating at first, but by following Perrello’s tips for success, you can make valuable connections with alumni and other industry professionals who can help you down the road. For more information on virtual networking or other career resources, you can visit the career services webpage or register for an appointment with a staff member on Handshake.