3 tips to help you build a professional network – CU Boulder Today

two people having coffeeYour professional network can be instrumental when it comes to finding jobs and internships. People in your network can provide different levels of support while you’re searching, whether it’s sharing job postings, proofreading your resume or practicing for interviews. 

You may not realize it, but you probably have a network in place already. Between professors, supervisors, co-workers, coaches and family friends—anyone who can help with your career growth can be considered a part of your network. It’s important to maintain these connections and make new ones throughout your career journey. Here are a few tips to help you feel more comfortable when making connections. 

Meet new contacts

Between campus events and online networking platforms, there are many ways to make new connections. 

Employers visit campus throughout the year to meet with students at career fairs or other networking events. These events are a great time to network with recruiters. Attend the upcoming Buffs Hire Buffs networking night on Nov. 10 to meet with CU alumni, and stay tuned for more career events in the spring.

You can also meet others virtually on a variety of online platforms:

  • Forever Buffs Network: Connect with CU Boulder alumni and other students.
  • Handshake: Attend virtual events and chat with potential employers, and use the community feature to meet other students and alumni. 
  • LinkedIn: Make connections with professionals in your field of interest.

Start the conversation

Networking can sometimes feel uncomfortable or intimidating. But it can help to remember that it’s just a conversation. Networking is about staying curious and learning from others, and it doesn’t have to be formal. People are often willing and excited to chat with you about your work. 

Whether you’re attending an in-person or virtual event, prepare a short introduction for yourself and think of a few questions to ask to get the conversation started. You could ask someone what they like most about their current job, what skills are most in demand in their field or how their degree helped prepare them for their career. Keep it casual and allow the conversation to flow naturally.  

If you’re looking to learn more about a specific company or industry, you could also ask to set up an informational interview. This practice can help answer questions you might have about what it takes to work in certain fields. It could also provide steps for how to get into a career. If you want to see how an informational interview works, attend one of the upcoming Buffs Interview Buffs events.

Stay in touch 

Do you have friends who have just graduated? People you’ve volunteered with? Former co-workers or members of your student organization? It’s important to not only stay in touch with new people you meet, but also anyone else that is currently in your network.

Add them on LinkedIn or the Forever Buffs Network to easily stay connected. Send a casual email every once in a while to check in and ask how they’re doing. Or schedule coffee dates or lunches to catch up and maintain the relationship. 

For more tips, check out weekly workshops with Career Services. Networking: The Basics and Beyond occurs on Mondays and will help you learn how to network in a genuine way and take networking to the next level.