Networking and How to Work it

Networking and How to Work it

Five Tips to Help Prepare You to Meet Michigan Alumni

Networking is all about making invaluable connections. And with one of the biggest alumni bodies in the world, Michigan students have access to a lot of connections. But what are the do’s and don’ts of networking?

  1. Do understand what networking is and why we all need to do it. Networking, especially for students, is all about making you relevant and visible to a professional community. Leveraging your connections in internship and job searches is valuable, but first you must have connections. Networking is what helps you develop ties to Michigan alumni.

  2. Don’t confuse networking with using LinkedIn. Using LinkedIn, in and of itself, is not networking; it is a means to help you do networking. LinkedIn’s power is in visualizing your ties that are strong (people you know) and weak (people you want to know), and giving you access to an alumni base of more than 230,000. It’s a great starting place for making connections, and every student should have a LinkedIn account, but it is equally important that you take advantage of ways to network with U-M alumni beyond signing in.

  3. Do prepare an elevator pitch. The story goes like this: If you were riding an elevator with a professional you want to know (think Google’s CEO) and you had 30 seconds to pitch yourself to him, what would you say? Elevator pitches are really just introductions, but the more focused and dynamic the introduction, the more positively you will appear. Before you start networking, plan what you want to say to U-M alumni you are going to meet. When you introduce yourself, what are the crucial things you want them to know about you? These things should go beyond your major and should set the stage for conversation about your professional interests and goals.

  4. Don’t participate in one-and-done networking. Networking is a means of building professional relationships. Professional relationships with peers, alumni, friends, and others are what help you advance your career. When you meet someone you click with, make a note of it and plan a strategy for following up. Regularly (i.e., frequently but not to an annoying extent) engaging your contacts helps them remember you and enables you to develop relationships with them. So when you’re looking for an internship or job they are more likely to help you by making an introduction or putting a good word in for you.

  5. Do take advantage of opportunities to network with U-M alumni. Start with a Face to Face with Michigan Alumni session. The first of this year’s five sessions is this Friday and centers on the consulting and finance industry. Subsequent sessions center on creative careers, marketing/advertising/public relations, entrepreneurship/technology, and health/wellness. Visit our website to read alumni bios and get registered for Friday’ssession.

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