Who you know is important

Everyone knows networking is a big deal in career development, but not everyone knows how to go about it. The good news is that it doesn't have to be difficult or awkward.

Expand your professional networks

Joining a professional association is an easy way to meet people in your desired field. Professional associations are groups of people who come together regularly for professional development activities, networking and sharing information. You can join an industry-specific group (e.g., a Human Resources student joining the Society for Human Resource Management) or a more general group with people from a variety of professional backgrounds (e.g., St. Paul Rotary Club). You can often join for a drastically discounted student rate. Ask your professors for recommendations or do a simple online search for your field's professional organizations.

You can find a number of national, regional and local groups for just about every field. But simply joining won't build your network. By attending events, conferences, volunteering for committees and engaging in online discussions, you'll be putting yourself out there and setting yourself up for opportunities to meet the right person at the right time.

Be engaged on campus

There are over 40 student organizations at Metropolitan State University. Student organizations are a fun way to get involved on campus, meet other students and develop your leadership skills. Many of the organizations bring in guest speakers from the community - this is another easy way to network.

Check out OrgSync to learn about the many different groups Metropolitan State has to offer.

Another way to network on campus is to attend the various programs and events university departments have to offer. It's important to remember that going to an event is just the first step to networking. Once you're there, talk with the other attendees and introduce yourself to any guest speakers or community members that might be in attendance.

Join groups on LinkedIn

LinkedIn groups can connect you with professionals working in your field. Groups allow you to discuss professional topics, trends, and share information about common interests. Make the most out of a group membership: explore latest articles, start a discussion, check out the content on the Jobs and Promotions tabs, or send a message to a member to reach out to them.

Tips to Remember When Networking

  • Think of a broad continuum of networking: start with the easy stuff like chatting with a classmate before class or visiting a professor during office hours. You are simply connecting with people and the earlier you start the better!
  • Get comfortable talking about yourself - be able to articulate the type of work you hope to do and provide specific examples of the organizations you are interested in. 
  • Do your homework. The more you know about your contact's organization and background the more impressed they'll be. 
  • Listen and show gratitude. When someone is kind enough to offer you advice, listen attentively. Send them a thank you note to show your appreciation.
  • Respect your contact's time. When you call, make sure you ask if they have time to talk. Be sensitive to how much your contact is willing to do for you and don't push that limit.
  • Do your part. Networking is a two-way street. Reciprocity is the most important aspect of networking. Offer to help your contacts whenever possible. Introduce them to others and share information with them.