We all want to know how to build our professional network and connect with confidence. Events like Engineering Extended Studies’ recent panel discussion on networking for graduate engineering students provides the tips and tricks to do just that.
The event featured a variety of panelists (seen above): General Engineering Professor Ahmed Banafa (LinkedIn’s #1 Voice to Follow in Tech!), Guadalupe Pena of Student Involvement, IEEE Student Chair Thomas Sciaroni, AIAA Industry Officer Fernando Ferreira, and alumni Patricia Goh (BS ChemE ‘18) and Daniel Weckler (MSEE ‘18). Together, they offered the following insights on today’s best networking practices.
Keep Your LinkedIn Profile Fresh
Employers go to LinkedIn to see what an applicant looks like, so put your best face forward with a professional profile picture. Keeping other aspects of your profile up-to-date is important, too; remember to list new publications, projects, endorsements, and recommendations so that potential employers are up to speed on who you are professionally. Going the extra mile and using other LinkedIn features—writing blog posts, joining groups, sending invitations to connect—will also help you stand out.
Attend as Many Events as Possible
Two of the best ways to network with higher-ups is by volunteering at industry conferences and attending alumni-associated events. Connected with someone? Great! Use LinkedIn to send a follow up request to learn more and set up an informational interview. After, get even more involved and look into memberships for the regional and national professional organizations that host these events. The repeated contact with industry representatives that these groups provide can lead to opportunities. It can also lead to sponsorship, which is helpful come time to ask for a letter of recommendation.
- Be Fearless
Putting yourself out there is intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Start small and stay connected with professors and classmates even after the semester ends. Watch TedTalks (like this one on speaking up and this one on conversation) on how to be confident and engage. Find a supportive mentor. Once you feel ready to branch out, remember that people always enjoy talking about themselves. Ask questions and request a business card. Lastly, don’t stress about titles; get your foot in the door, let your work speak for itself, and climb the ladder.