Have you ever wondered why networking is so important? Networking is an excellent resource that can result in mentorships, internships, employment opportunities and career exploration conversations. As a Syracuse University student, you have access to a family of thousands of alumni willing to connect with you and be a part of your professional network. Build and expand your professional network and connect with Syracuse alumni! Take advantage of this great resource.
A Guide for Networking
Learn strategies for effective networking in the following guide and in this 15-minute Networking Strategies Virtual Workshop.
How to Prepare on Your Own
- Complete your Handshake profile (syr.joinhandshake.com/).
- Gain more insight into your own interests by taking the Strong Interest Inventory assessment. Complete the questionnaire (bit.ly/casstrong) and you will hear from a representative of the CAS Advising Office within three business days, regarding next steps.
- Explore possible career paths based on your major on WhatCanIDoWithThisMajor.com. Access the site for free by visiting bit.ly/syrwcidwtm and accessing the link under “What can I do with my major?”
- Build a killer resume (bit.ly/syrresumes) and LinkedIn profile (bit.ly/syrlinked). Prepare and practice a list of questions to ask (examples included in this guide) and an elevator pitch (included within as well) to concisely describe yourself during your interaction.
- Watch Celeste Headlee’s TED Talk, “How to Have a Good Conversation” (bit.ly/conversationatsu)
How to Prepare With Others
- Talk to your existing support network about your goals and interests. Use Zoom or a phone call to connect remotely when you can’t in person. It will help you express your goals and open yourself up to their advice and assistance in low-pressure interactions.
- Practice asking questions with friends, classmates, professors, parents, your barista, anyone!
- Test your elevator speech out and ask for critical feedback.
- Hone your conversation skills
Expand Your Network
- Expand your network by seeking out people who share your passions and interests by attending events, joining organizations, and taking classes you enjoy.
- Use the LinkedIn alumni tool (bit.ly/sulinkedinalumni), alumni events and programming, and established connections to identify valuable connections.
- Join LinkedIn groups that foster alumni-student connection such as the College of Arts and Sciences LinkedIn group (bit.ly/caslinkedingroup), CuseConnect (bit.ly/cuseconnect), and the Syracuse University Alumni Network (bit.ly/sualumnetwork).
- Connect directly with new people on LinkedIn and be sure to include a note explaining why you want to connect (in 300 characters or less). For example:
- “Hello (__________)! I am a student at SU studying (_________). I’m very interested in learning more about (your career journey/ your job at _________ / the __________industry) and would love to connect! All the best, ( _________)”
- Use tact when contacting people you don’t know. If you don’t get a response, leave it be and seek out another strong contact. Do not connect with someone with the sole purpose of getting a job or internship. Being connected to someone on LinkedIn is not enough to expect them to refer you for an opportunity at their company. You will need to build a relationship with them over time.
Conduct Informational Interviews
- Informational interviews are conversations with people in your network in which you can gain insight into someone’s organization, career, and background. These are not job interviews; however, if you make a good impression, you never know when an opportunity may arise.
- Go in prepared, curious and gracious. Use Headlee’s conversation tips (bit.ly/conversationatsu)!
- Be ready to deliver your elevator speech or hand off a copy of your resume.
- Establish clear goals for the interaction. What do you want to learn from this person?
- Be prepared to ask questions as well as answer questions about your own background and experience (find sample questions in the networking guidance in the supplemental materials).
- Send a thank you email after your informational interview within 24 hours and stay connected via LinkedIn.
About their organization
- What are some of the goals and objectives of your organization?
- How would you describe the work culture in this organization?
- What are some unique aspects of this organization?
About their job
- What experiences/skills/tools have helped you the most in your work with this organization?
- Why types of preparation did you have for the current work you are doing?
- What are the big challenges you face in your current job?
- What types of additional professional training are provided for you at your job?
About their industry
- What are the significant changes occurring today in this career field?
- What are the trends (growth or decline) in this career field?
- What do you think are the most pertinent skills one should have for this field?
- What advice would you give me if I am interested in pursuing this career field?
- What experts, articles, or books would you suggest I look at to learn more about this field?
About their career journey and philosophies
- Why did you pursue this opportunity?
- Would you have done anything differently?
- What qualifications do you seek for a new hire?
- What additional types of experiences do you suggest I seek out?
- Who has been the most help in your career? How did they help you?
- What parts of your job do you find the most challenging?
- Can you recommend the best entry-level jobs to get started in this line of work?
Crafting an Elevator Pitch
This is key to answering the inevitable question: “So, tell me a little bit about yourself.” Incorporate these details into your pitch to concisely and effectively convey your story.
- Class year (i.e. freshman, sophomore, junior, senior)
- Major(s) and a brief reason why
- Relevant experience (work, internships, clubs, athletics, etc.)
- What field(s) you are interested in and a brief reason why
Hello, my name is ____________ and I am completing a degree in ____________. I am interested in a career in ____________ in the ____________ field. I have been involved in ____________. And developed skills in ____________. I have also had an internship position as a ____________ with ____________ and discovered that I really enjoy ____________. Can you tell me more about ____________?
Alumni from the College of Arts & Sciences | the Maxwell School are dedicated to offering time and knowledge to our current students through immersion trips, informational interviewing and job shadowing. Students meeting with alumni find out about more about careers, specific industries and organizational culture. To take advantage of these opportunities, we suggest frequently checking the University Events Calendar and staying in contact with your academic and career advisor.
Immersion trips help students see how a liberal arts degree can successfully prepare them for a career in various industries. We travel to cities like New York to tour companies and meet alumni. By learning about their career paths and day-to-day work responsibilities, students will return to campus with a broader understanding of potential careers and more confidence in navigating decisions around professional development.
These trips are wonderful opportunities to learn about available internships and to broaden your professional network of alumni.
Learn more about immersion trips.
Alumni Engagement Opportunities
Alumni extend offers to host informational, career-focused interviews with students in in-person workplace visits, conversations over lunch or coffee, phone calls, and video chats over the break between semesters. It is a valuable opportunity for students to gain career advice, networking experience, and industry knowledge. It is also a key engagement opportunity for alumni of all giving capacities to share their valuable time and insight.
LinkedIn has a wealth of information on the people and companies with whom you want to build relationships. The primary purpose of LinkedIn is to create a professional online profile that potential employers can view to learn more about your professional experience. LinkedIn is an ideal place build your professional network, learn more about your career choice, search for jobs and establish connections with alumni.
A few groups to join:
- Arts and Sciences page and group
- 'Cuse Connect
- Maxwell School of Syracuse University
- Syracuse University Alumni Network
You can learn more about networking at the Syracuse University Career Services networking section.