What do you think of when you hear the word “networking?”

A recent graduate told me about a time when she met an attorney while playing pool at the Parkway. The next summer, she interned at his office. The student hadn’t set out to network that night, but she took advantage of an opportunity when it presented itself.

Many times networking happens just like that—you meet people in a variety of contexts, and strike up a conversation.

Some people I know get nervous—the idea of reaching out to somebody they don’t know is scary. Others are energized—they love connecting with people and finding that they have something in common. For me…I like to think of networking as relationship building. I don’t view it as a way to get an “in” for a job or internship; rather I see it as a way to make professional friends. You already build relationships all the time through your academic or social activities—professional networking is just taking it up a notch in terms of focus and formality.

Strategies for networking can include:

Using the Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) Network: You’re fortunate that at the University of Puget Sound, you have a ready-made list of prospective contacts waiting to hear from you! The ASK Network is a database of more than 2700 alumni who’ve said they’d like to talk with students about career-related topics.

You can access profiles and contact information for your alumni volunteers via the CES menu on Cascade.

Attend ASK Night annually: It’s the friendliest networking audience you’ll ever encounter. Members of the ASK Network descend on campus to connect in-person with Puget Sound students. They’re excited to meet you, so choose to be there for them, too!

ASK Night is an excellent way to learn about the variety of career fields our graduates enter and how their lives are enriched through their liberal arts education. For event details and a list of alumni attending, please visit the ASK Night webpage.

Let everyone know you’re looking to connect: Think about who you already know that might know somebody you’d like to connect with…

  • Post a Facebook status update that reads “Puget Sound senior interested in meeting professionals working in xxx field. If you have any contacts, please let me know!”
  • Talk with your parents, friends, former teachers or supervisors about your interests and ask if they know anybody who would be willing to talk with you.
  • Create a LinkedIn profile and indicate your interest in connecting with professionals there.

Let fate play a role: Instead of being irritated that you were assigned to the middle seat on the airplane, think of it as an opportunity to meet two potential contacts. Notice somebody wearing a jersey of your favorite team? Make a comment. This may not always lead to a networking opportunity, but it could—remember that student playing pool?

Still wondering about what to do? CES can help! Stop by to schedule an appointment or meet with one of our staff members during drop-in advising. We’re happy to help you build your web of connections!

Previous CESblogs on this topic:

New to Networking? Start Where You Are!

Networking and information interviewing

LinkedIn Success Story

Random Acts of Networking

© 2012 Career and Employment Services, University of Puget Sound