Five Tips to Get Better at Networking

Hey everybody! My name is Bryce Davis and I’m a recent graduate of UR, where I studied economics and music, sang in the Midnight Ramblers, and worked at the Greene Center for four years! In my last year and a half at the Greene Center, I co-hosted our podcast, Careers Unfiltered (available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify).

This unique job meant that I had to talk to a lot of complete strangers. I quickly learned how to start a conversation out of thin air and cultivate a connection. These skills are invaluable to students searching for a job or internship. After doing some thinking, I have five tips that will help you as you look to improve your networking skills!

Tip one: Know yourself.

To connect with others, you must first connect with yourself. It sounds cheesy, but it’s true. Take the time to reflect on your background, skills, and interests to craft an “elevator pitch.” Know what you want out of a conversation before you go into it!

Tip two: Do your research.

You should have a good understanding of who you’re talking to, and what their background is. For specific, individual situations where you’ve made an appointment, such as an informational interview or cup of coffee, prepare a list of thoughtful questions or important topics. For more public situations, like career fairs or cocktail hours, it’s less easy to prepare. In general, if you have a good understanding of yourself (see tip one), and the industry you want to work in, you should be fine!

Tip three: Take a deep breath.

It can be stressful to strike up conversation with a stranger, and it’s normal to be nervous. Before going into any conversation, take a moment for yourself. One thing to realize is that the other person is often just as excited to talk as you are! They were in your shoes once too, and almost everyone wants to share their insights and advice. Even if it goes awry, it’s not the end of the world.

Tip four: Listen.

People like to talk about themselves. Let them! Follow their lead and make thoughtful contributions to the conversation. Be polite. When you say your goodbyes, be sure to thank them for their time!

Tip five: Follow up!

After a day or two, follow up and thank those who you connected with again. This small step might seem like nothing, but a lot of people don’t even bother to send a two-sentence email! Send a thoughtful note and you’ll stick out from the crowd. Keep in touch with your contacts – like friends, they can drift away if you don’t keep them updated.

I hope you found those tips helpful as you leap into the world of networking! At the end of the day, every “connection” is a person just like you and me. Good luck, and remember to have fun!

By Bryce Davis
Bryce Davis