One of the best times to network is in graduate school. During your studies, you’re surrounded by like-minded people working together to gain new skills, and learning from professors with relevant industry experience.
Building relationships is an investment in your career—in fact, 85 percent of all jobs are filled through networking. If you’re looking to broaden your network, below are six networking tips to help you throughout graduate school:
1) Join as Many Events and Groups as Possible
In graduate school, you collaborate with peers from different professional backgrounds and often have the opportunity to attend a variety of networking events—from organizational clubs to career fairs. Make sure you’re taking advantage of these opportunities, and register for events that are relevant to your interests.
Depending on where your school is located, you may have additional opportunities to network throughout your region. For example, Northeastern has campuses in Boston, Charlotte, Seattle, Silicon Valley, and Toronto—cities brimming with world-class businesses, nonprofits, and cultural events. This can help you meet people from unique backgrounds and further expand your network.
If you’re an online student, you can still take advantage of your school’s network by joining online groups, attending virtual events, and contributing to conversations on your institution’s social media pages.
2) Reach Out to Your Professors
Your professors are a valuable resource, not just in terms of the skills and industry expertise they provide, but for the connections they offer. Many of your professors are likely industry experts with connections to different professionals, thought leaders, and organizations. Reach out and get to know them beyond the classroom, either during office hours or through an informal coffee chat.
3) Do Your Research
Before starting class or attending an event, check out who will be there, if possible. From students to professors and other professionals, if there’s someone you’re interested in meeting, then browse their LinkedIn and Twitter bios to learn more about their background and hobbies. Doing this can give you a better sense of his or her personality beforehand and help you draft the right questions to ask in-person or via email.
4) Be Helpful to Others
Whether you’re organizing a study group for an upcoming exam or sending a few relevant industry-related articles to a classmate, be known as a resource to others. By sharing your time and knowledge, you’ll establish stronger relationships with your classmates and demonstrate that you value their connection.
5) Find New People to Meet
In graduate school, it’s important to continuously establish new relationships in order to enhance your network. The people you already know, whether a fellow student, professor, or staff member, can be a great reference to meeting others. Whether online or in-person, they can introduce you to new connections who may become mentors, business partners, or job leads. If you’re eager to meet new people, then don’t forget to connect with your university’s alumni network. Reaching out to alumni can be a great way to jumpstart your career.
Also keep in mind that you should also be making introductions for others. Introduce people in your network to others who will benefit from the connection. It’s more likely they will then reciprocate the favor.
6) Keep in Touch
Once you’ve established new connections, it’s important to keep in touch. While you may see certain classmates and professors frequently, make sure not to lose contact with your peers. This will also make it easier for them to help you when you need a favor—or remember you when they have something of value to offer.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Networking works best when you are unafraid to ask for support, from advice to mentorship and resources. As long as you can maintain a strong relationship with your network, then asking for guidance is to be expected.
Are you interested in learning more about the benefits of a graduate degree? Explore additional articles on achieving Grad School Success, including “7 Career-Focused Reasons to Pursue a Graduate Degree” and “4 Industries Where a Graduate Degree Pays Off.”