How to Make Networking Work for You


There are people who would rather have a tooth pulled than go to a networking event. The idea of being in a room full of strangers, having to start a conversation and then gracefully exit when appropriate is daunting for college students and seasoned professionals alike. Whether you’re going to an upcoming career fair, invited to a networking mixer for a company you want to work with, or meeting new group members for a class project, here are some tried and true ways to make the most of the experience:
  • Give a firm handshake– No matter who you’re getting ready to meet, make sure your handshake is firm. Don’t give the other person dead weight or a knuckle-crushing handshake. Beforehand, be sure to switch any beverage glasses to your left hand so that your hands aren’t too hot or too cold. Likewise, put your phone or any other objects away so that you don’t fumble when it’s time to go in for the handshake.
  • Don’t hesitate to introduce yourself first– Now that you have this person’s hand and attention, say hi, let them know who you are and that it’s a pleasure to meet them.
  • Look people in the eye– When we’re in new situations, we can tend to look around the room while talking instead of at the people we’re talking to. Make eye contact, it lets your audience know that you’re present and paying attention to them.
  • Smile– Smiling will help make you and the person or people you’re talking to feel more at ease. You’ll also come off as more open and willing to engage.
  • Follow-up– When someone shares their contact information with you, it’s crucial to follow up with them in a timely manner. Sending them a quick note to thank them for their time and reflecting on a part of your conversation will go a long way in helping them remember you after your initial meeting. For Example, ” Hi Jim, It was great meeting you at the Finance Industry Night yesterday. Thank you for taking some time to share your story with me. I would love to connect to speak further about how you used your internship to get a full-time job with Chase. How does your schedule look to grab coffee next Thursday?” The email doesn’t have to be long but make sure you reach out to move your initial conversation forward.
There are ample opportunities to both practice your networking skills and build your network whether it’s with classmates or potential employers. The next time you meet or are introduced to someone new, keep these tips in mind to help you leave a lasting impression.
By: Hannah Tall
Hannah Tall is a Regional Recruitment Manager with City Year. She is passionate about youth development and education and is using her work with City Year to help young people become change agents within schools and communities across the country.