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How to Actually Network as a College Graduate

18 October, 2015 by Matt Goldenberg

“What do you think is the best way to network? Everyone says “network,” but what does that mean?” –Sara Botts

Great question! This is a common one, and I’ve seen the sentiment on reddit that when someone says “network” what they really mean is “already have an existing network.”

I’ve found that not to be true – even as a new grad , there are a few effective ways to network:

  1. By activating your existing network. Once you’ve figured out what job title you want, send out an email to friends, family, and classmates. Tell them exactly who you’re looking to talk to. This is an incredibly effective step that so many grads neglect to take.
  2. Through informational interviews. A highly effective way to make contact with people more experienced than you is to ask them for advice. Be very specific about what you want in your initial message, then, when you do meet, be intelligent, thoughtful, and grateful. Keep in touch with those people, and they’ll let you know when they have an opportunity for you.
  3. Through industry events. This is not your typical “networking event” that includes mostly other unemployed people and desperate network marketers. Instead, you want to go to industry conferences. This is typically very expensive for new grads, so the secret is to email the conference organizer – let them know you’re a new grad, and ask to volunteer. It’s an incredibly high density of people who can help you in your job search.
  4. Interesting projects. If you can create something cool and get other people involved, it’s a great way to network. I’ve had students create podcasts and interview the top people in their industry, or designers create a really cool visualizations and get help from other top designers – the idea is to do something that makes others WANT to help you.

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