two people talkingBuilding your professional network can offer many benefits. Not only is networking an important part of your job search, but the people in your network can provide different levels of support while you’re searching. Maybe that’s sharing job postings, proofreading your application materials or practicing for interviews. Here are three tips to help you grow your network this year.

Reach out

Don’t be afraid to attempt aspirational connections—politely! Reach out to people on the Forever Buffs Network or LinkedIn, or email and ask if they have time for a quick conversation. Establish expectations by offering a duration and time frame (15 minutes sometime in the next week or two, for example), and let them know the topic you want to learn about. Maybe you’d like to know about their experiences making the transition from academia to industry, or the ways they use their degree in their new field. Sharing this in advance allows people to know what they’re saying yes to.

Come prepared

It is important to respect the time and effort of this new connection by being prepared for your meeting with them! Suggest a time and place to grab coffee together, or offer to set up the Zoom room and send them a link so all they have to do is click. This may seem obvious, but if you’re meeting virtually, take a few moments to check your internet connection before your meeting. Make sure your camera functions and the lens is clean, and that your laptop is plugged in before you start. You wouldn’t want to run out of battery or have your modem need to be restarted in the middle of a meeting with someone you’ve worked so hard to connect with.

Whether you’re meeting virtually or in person, have a list of questions prepared and allow the conversation to flow naturally. Be sure to thank them for their time and help at the end of the meeting, and send a quick thank you note a few days later. If their advice or ideas later prove helpful in your job search, let them know!

Stay in touch

It’s important to stay in touch with new people you meet. Add new contacts on LinkedIn or the Forever Buffs Network to easily stay connected. Send a casual email every once in a while to check in, or schedule coffee dates or lunches to catch up and maintain the relationship.

For more tips on networking or making progress in your job search, check out weekly events from Career Services.