What is networking?

Networking is a way to build professional relationships and gather information. As you network, you’ll meet people who can share information about what they do, where they work, and how their career paths have progressed. This information is crucial to the job search process. By building your network (starting now), you’ll gain invaluable connections and knowledge about your industry and have a much greater chance of landing your dream job.

Places to network

  • Handshake is the online recruiting platform for all Miami University students. You can search for jobs on Handshake, but it’s also a powerful networking tool. You can connect with fellow students, alumni, and employers, and you can also register for networking events and information sessions.
  • LinkedIn is a great way to connect with Miami University alumni. Visit the Miami University page on LinkedIn, click “alumni,” and filter based on your location and job preferences to find alumni working in your field of interest.
  • Twitter can be used as a networking tool. Use it to follow leaders in your industry and make connections. If using Twitter for networking, make sure to keep tweets, likes, and retweets professional!
  • Networking in person can be helpful, too. Along with attending Career Services events, you can become involved with professional associations or go to conferences. Ask us about opportunities, visit our events page, or check out the event calendar on Handshake.

Informational interviews

  • One of the best ways to network is through informational interviews. An informational interview is a short conversation with someone whose career interests you. You can start by interviewing people you know (faculty, staff, family, friends) and then continue to conduct informational interviews as you make connections online and in person.
  • Ask your interviewee if they’re willing to sit down with you for about 15-20 minutes to answer some questions about their career path. You might ask some of the following questions or develop your own:
    • Tell me a little about your career path leading to your current role.
    • What is a typical day like for you?
    • What do you like best about your work with this company?
    • What advice do you have for someone thinking about this career path?
  • Remember to send a thank you note after each informational interview.

Elevator pitches

  • As you’re networking, your new connections will likely ask about you, so you’ll want to be prepared! Your response to this question is also known as an "elevator pitch," because an effective answer will cover everything someone needs to know about you in about 30 seconds (the time it might take to ride in an elevator with someone). Here's what you need to include in an elevator pitch:
    • Your major (or intended major)
    • Where you go to college and when you plan to graduate
    • Why you're interested in your chosen career field
    • What you consider to be your main strengths
    • A brief summary of your work and/or other experience
  • Remember that this should be about 30-45 seconds, so keep your answers concise and to the point. Practice your elevator pitch out loud to make sure you sound prepared but not overly-rehearsed. 

Networking tips

  • Make sure your resume is up to date before you start networking. You may consider bringing some copies with you to networking events. 
  • Keep track of your contacts using a spreadsheet or app so you know where to go to find information.
  • Send a thank you note to anyone who helps you along the way.
  • Return the favor! Networking is a two-way street. As you gather information from others, make sure to stay available and share helpful information. After graduation, consider serving as an alumni mentor or panelist.