Getting to know people in order to build your career is called networking. If this word and concept intimidate you, know you are in good company; most people cringe at the idea. There are, however, some easy ways to make connections with new people and strengthen connections you already have.
The good news is that you already have a network in your friends and family. Add to that people that you know from different social organizations, such as RSOs, sports teams, or spiritual organizations. These connections are part of your network even though you don't know them in a professional setting. They may work at a job related to one you are seeking, and they might be able to share information and contacts that could help you in your job search. Don't be afraid to say to your connections, "I'm really interested in [name of field/job]. Is there someone you know who could help me learn more?"
You might be introduced to someone at an event, or you might have the opportunity to set up an informational interview with a new contact. A good way to break the ice is to ask the other person purposeful questions. People generally like talking about themselves, including what they do for work and their interests. Place your focus on getting to know your new contact and thinking about how this person might fit into your network. You're not asking for a job, just more information. Try:
The way you present yourself makes a lasting impression. While it is normal to feel nervous or discouraged when talking to someone who might have a job connection, the key is to remain positive and optimistic when introducing yourself. Keep in mind that networking goes two ways – each person must benefit. Show an interest in the other person instead of focusing only on yourself and the outcome you want.
The Husky Experience Toolkit is designed to help you make the most of your time at UW, wherever you are in your university career. The articles address four interconnected dimensions of the Husky Experience: Know Yourself, Know the World, Make Your Way, and Weave it Together.