Networking is a term used to describe the art of conversation,
particularly in making professional connections. The same principles
used to find a good restaurant or hair salon apply here; you begin by
expressing interest and asking questions. Networking allows you to
explore options by asking for opinions and advice and informing others
of your goals. Networking is not about asking for a job; it’s about building relationships.
Your network is probably already bigger than you think. Consider these groups for exploring new connections.
- Personal Connections: Family, friends, faculty, former supervisors, and even Facebook are all part of your personal network. They may themselves have the experience you’re hoping to learn more about or they may know someone who does.
- Scripps College alumnae and friends: Search the Scripps Community Network using the Login button in the top navigation and connect with hundreds of members of the Scripps community. You may also want to join the Alumnae Association’s LinkedIn group.
- Campus Speakers: Hundreds of guest lectures and panels are offered across The Claremont Colleges each semester. Stay after a presentation to connect with a speaker, or send them an email after their talk.
- Experts: You can email researchers whose work you cite in your thesis, follow industry thought-leaders on Twitter, and write professionals you find through LinkedIn.
Entering a room full of people you don’t know is possibly the most
difficult part of a networking event. Make the most of it by following
these simple steps:
- Prepare ahead by reviewing the registration list, if available, to target people you’d like to meet.
- Dress professionally to make a positive first impression.
- Take a deep breath, stand tall, and make your way to the registration table first.
- Write your first and last name legibly on your name tag and wear it visibly just below your right shoulder.
- Find the event host(s). Shake hands and offer a brief thank-you for the invitation or opportunity to participate.
- Introduce yourself to others using your elevator pitch, a brief
statement that describes who you are and what you do (or your connection
to the event). If you’re joining a group already in conversation, wait
for an opportunity to add a comment or question; allow introductions to
- Be active in the conversation. Hold eye contact and keep your facial
expressions natural. Ask questions and listen well. Respond clearly in
an appropriate volume for the setting.
- Collect business cards and make note of the conversation for later follow-up.
- Take a break (or several) when needed.
- Before leaving, say goodbye to your new contacts, even if just
through eye contact and a head nod. Personally thank the host again with
Framing Your I Don't Know
Not sure what to say? That's okay. No one expects you to have a fully developed plan (or even one single plan). Adding a little substance to your response allows for better conversation, stronger follow-up questions, and can often spark new ideas. Rather than answering "I don't know" when people ask about what you want to do, start by offering what you do know.
I'm still exploring ideas right now, but I'm really enjoying my music classes and would like to be back in Portland this summer.
If you are truly stuck, you might consider turning the tables and asking a question that helps build the conversation.
I'm still exploring ideas right now. How did you typically spend your summers in College?