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NETWORKING

Networking or more casually known as “relationship-ing” is simply the active process of learning about and getting to know others with professional interests in mind. This is one of the most successful ways to develop and design your career path!

You can grow and develop your network at all stages of your life – whether it is to help you explore career possibilities, learn about unique roles and opportunities as you approach a job search, or make a career transition in the future.

HOW TO GET STARTED

There are many ways you can network in a variety of environments. Some examples include:

  • Attend an Auburn Engineering Career event related to your interests. This could include career fairs, industry days, one-on-one meetings with employers or alumni, among others. You can view all upcoming events here.
  • Join an Auburn Engineering student organization, research group, or project team. Get to know and learn about the experiences of your peers with like-minded interests. Consider joining the student chapter of an engineering professional association and attend a professional conference to meet and learn about the career path of professionals in your field of interest.
  • Visit faculty members to discuss possible research interests, opportunities, and advice about graduate school. Find a Faculty Expert
  • Create and manage a Handshake and LinkedIn profile to establish a professional virtual presence. Make sure to maintain an appropriate presence on other social media platforms.
  • Dependent on your industry area, consider establishing and maintaining an ePorfolio or GitHub to collect and display your work.
  • Find potential alumni contacts using the alumni feature of the Auburn University LinkedIn page or the Ginn Connections mentorship programs. Reach out and request an informational interview.
  • Update friends, family, former teachers, and other personal contacts your career interests, goals, and job or internship search plans.

KEY NETWORKING RULES

  1. Think long term. Networking is not about a transactional experience where you should expect to get a concrete outcome from your first conversation. It is about getting to know and learn about others in a way that establishes and maintains a connection over time.
  2. The more you give, the more you’ll get. Networking is most useful when it is beneficial to both parties. While you can benefit from learning about a day-in-the-life of a professional’s job role, they can benefit from something you have to offer as well. While you may not feel you have much to give, consider what would be of interest to your contact. An alum might appreciate an update about what is happening in Auburn Engineering.
  3. Quality over quantity. Networks are truly established with people you establish, maintain, and expand a relationship with. Five contacts you sustain a relationship with over time are more valuable than 500 virtual connections.

NEXT STEPS

  1. Build your base of contacts. Create a list of 10-20 people you know. You may be surprised how many contacts you already have! Start by considering the 5 F’s of networking:
    • Friends I  Current and former classmates, fraternity or sorority friends, teammates, friends of friends
    • Family I  Moms, Dads, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, In-Laws, So-close-they’re-family friends, neighbors
    • Faculty I  Professors, Teaching Assistants, Staff, Graduate Students, School Administrators, Advisors, Coaches
    • Fellow Peers and Alumni I  Co-workers, Student Organization Members, Alumni Councils for your department or organization, Alumni mentors in the Ginn Connections programs
    • Foundations and Associations I  Career societies relevant to your interest areas such as AiCHE, ASCE, ASABE, NSBE, SHPE, SWE, IEEE. Consider starting by exploring the student chapters of these associations.
    • Others I  People you volunteered with, local business owners. Brainstorm!
  2. Learn about industry areas and identify additional potential contacts using Vault, CareerShift, and LinkedIn.
    You started with the people you know, or the people you know who know someone. Now you can expand by digging into more specific areas of interest and identifying contacts with links to those interests.

Auburn students have exclusive paid access to Vault and CareerShift. Learn more at Online Resources.  

  1. Update your personal branding materials and social networking profiles.
    Professional contacts and employers want to get a sense of who they’ll be connecting with (and potentially employing!). The way you represent yourself through digital platforms needs to project a positive image. Do not post anything online you would not want a potential employer to see.
    • Resume
    • LinkedIn
    • Handshake
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • Instagram
    • Online Portfolio
  1. Contact your network!
    Reach out to contacts with a personable approach and an intent to learn from their experience – not an intent to get something from them (i.e. can you help me get a job?). When reaching out to potential contacts for the first time, consider:
  • Your personal pitch, or elevator pitch helps a professional contact get to know a little bit about you, your experience, and your interests and goals.
  • Requesting an informational interview where you can ask questions about their professional role, pathway to current position, and advice for students or new professionals exploring their industry area.
  • Keep track of who you want to reach out to, who you meet with, and topics of discussion.

 

Name I  Company + Industry

How we connected

Questions to ask

Date

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Follow up and continue the relationship.
    Make sure to continue communicating so the experience is not limited to a one-time conversation, but grows into an established contact.
  • Note and record personal details you gleaned from the conversation. Tailor your future follow ups to the needs and interests of your contact.
  • Thank them promptly and often for their help. Express your gratitude for their time and advice.
  • Keep your contacts informed about your career-related progress and job search activity.
  • Keep yourself updated about events and activities that might involve or impact your contacts. Research news sources associated with their industry and follow key players and organizations through social media.
  • You will make a good impression by showing you act and communicate in a professional manner. When a job opening comes along, your contact might think of you. While informational interviews sometimes result in opportunities – they don’t always. Make sure you never expect to get a job directly from them.