By: S. David Ross, Associate Director
Much has been written about networking and its importance in the job and internship search process. When meeting with students, I try to make a distinction between formal networking and informal networking. While formal networking opportunities include events such as career fairs and information sessions where the assumption is that attendees will “network” with each other, it can be easy to forget that informal networking can lead to some interesting possibilities. A recent experience reminded of the value of informal networking.
While on my commute to work one morning, I was standing next to two individuals engaged in conversation. Everything else was so quiet that the only thing you could hear was the loud conversation. After a few minutes, it was very clear the two individuals did not previously know each other – they just happened to be sitting near each other and decided to strike up a conversation. I noticed that one person was a college student seeking advice and the other a working professional. One thing that was memorable was the end of the conversation where the professional offered his business card and his willingness to connect the student with someone he knew that could possibly help. And all of this happened on a random commute one morning – an example of an informal networking situation that you may find yourself in when you least expect it.
So if you have the chance to engage in informal networking and have a conversation with someone outside of a formalized networking event, think of it as a opportunity. You never know who you will meet and where the conversation may lead.