Networking Tips

Your emphasis when networking should be on building relationships and making connections in a purposeful, organized way. Networking is the most effective way to find jobs, internships, and professional opportunities. Although you would likely love to find yourself working for your mentor, you shouldn’t be directly asking your mentor for a job. Instead, focus on building professional relationships with those who can give you advice, insights, and perhaps leads to specific job opportunities.

Prepare:

  • Be ready with a one minute pitch of who you are.
    • This is not your life history. Describe an interesting project you have worked on recently, a passion for a particular area of emphasis in your field of study, and a few words about your interest and enthusiasm for your work and desired position.
  • Have several key conversational points in mind – connect with them over both attending UCLA.
  • Think about your purpose: Is it career research? Career development?
    • Target your questions around your purpose.
    • Do you want to know about the industry? The organization? Occupations in this field? Related occupations? Graduate school?

First Impressions:

  • Dress appropriately and accessorize conservatively – it is better to be over dressed.
  • For women: This is a great blog with photos of business casual attire.
  • Don’t chew gum and put away your phone.

Introduce Yourself:

  • Thank them for taking the time to meet with you.
  • Shake their hand.
  • Show a genuine interest in their line of work/study.
    • Most people like to talk about themselves, and are happy to give advice.

Questions to Get Started:

  • Can you tell me a bit about your background?
  • How did you get started in this line of work?

Questions to Ask About an Occupation:

  • What is the organization/ firm/ company culture like?
  • What advice would you offer to someone trying to break into this industry?
  • What does a person do in this occupation on a typical day? Is there a set routine?
  • What educational program is recommended as preparation for the job? Distinguish between what is desirable and what is necessary.
  • What degree or certificate do employers look for? In what fields?
  • What skills are particularly important?
  • What kind of work experience would employers look for in a job applicant? How might a student obtain this work experience?
  • What advice would you offer to someone who is still trying to explore industries?
  • What other steps (if any) are necessary to enter this occupation (e.g., test, join a union)?
  • What are the opportunities for advancement? Is an advanced degree needed? If so, in what area?
  • What are the different work settings in which people in this occupation may be employed (e.g., educational institutions, businesses)?
  • What are some related occupations? Are there occupations doing similar work, but at different levels or in different areas? Where else might I explore?
  • Could you recommend other colleagues or friends with whom I can speak? Is it OK to use your name when I contact them?

Prospects of the Career:

  • How does a person seek a job in this area?
  • What are current employment prospects in this city? Elsewhere?
  • Do you see any future trends or changes in the direction of the problems and topics considered in your area?
  • How will these changes affect the plans and training of persons interested in a career in your area?
  • What difficulties do you think a person entering this field now can expect to encounter?

Wrapping Up the Meeting:

  • Thank them for meeting with you.
  • “This has been very informative! May I contact you again in a couple of weeks after I follow up on… x, y, and z?”
  • Send them a thank you card to their work, or at least a thank you email!
  • Follow through with what you promised.
    • Did they give you a colleague to contact? Ask them to coffee.
      • “I am a graduating senior at the UCLA and ___  gave me your contact info as someone I might reach out to with questions about x, y, and z. I am interested in working in… /studying… /learning more about… Would you be willing to meet me for coffee for 30 minutes near your work place in the coming weeks to hear more about the work that you do with… ?”
    • Did they tell you to research an organization, an academic program, a search engine? Do it, and mention it in your next contact to them.
    • Email them again in the next few weeks to follow up on your conversation.

Questions for you to Reflect on After the Meeting:

  • What aspects of the job would you like?
  • What aspects of the job would you dislike? How long could you put up with them?
  • What is your reaction to the conditions (e.g., stress/anxieties) of this occupation? Could you handle them?
  • What is your reaction to the amount of freedom or leeway the worker has in determining what he/she does on the job?
  • How do you feel about working with the kind of people that you have met in this field?
  • Do you have (or could you acquire) the skills and personal characteristics necessary for this job?
  • How do you feel about the duties described in relation to the kinds of activities you presently enjoy?
  • What else do you still want to know? Utilize your mentor’s network to connect with others from whom you can continue to learn.