When to Network

Last week, at an alumni meeting, a discussion was held regarding when alumni-student networking events should be held.  Some students were invited to give input.  One advised that late fall was a bad time for such sessions, because a number of seniors would already have jobs, and would be less likely to attend.

While this may be true at least some years, it struck me as too bad.  You shouldn’t just network when you need something, such as a job.  Networking is a continuous process.  You should always take advantage of the opportunity to meet interesting people, particularly alumni/ae who are interested in sharing their expertise with current students.

Networking is about relationship building.  And it is reciprocal.  Even as a student you have much to offer.  For example, I did a mock interview today with a student who is a candidate for a prestigious fellowship.  I learned that he was the product of a restaurant family in a city I will be visiting.  I jokingly asked him for a restaurant recommendation to break the ice, and he mentioned a place he liked.  Within hours I received an email from him with three further recommendations, complete with web sites and phone numbers.  How thoughtful that was.  This student understands that everyone has something to offer.

So start networking today, and when you get a job, don’t stop.  You need a network, and your network needs you.

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