Networking Tips

Whether you’re a seasoned networker or attending your first Williams alumni event, here are a few strategies to help you make the most of the experience:

    1. Have a Goal
      Before you arrive, ask yourself, "Why am I going?" Come up with two outcomes you hope to get out of the event—say, meeting three new people or getting a vendor referral. (Or, if you're going to reconnect with classmates, that's fine, too!) Knowing ahead of time what you're hoping to accomplish will help you stay focused.
    2. Check Out Who'll Be There
      Look over the guest list. If there are specific individuals you're hoping to meet, research their LinkedIn profile to learn the basics about their career trajectory and look for common connections.
    3. Prepare Your "Elevator Pitch"
      There's nothing worse than being asked the question, "What do you do?" and suddenly coming up blank. The idea of a traditional elevator pitch is a bit outdated, but the underlying strategy is still a good one: Come up with a few sentences you can use to accurately describe your professional self.
    4. Bring Business Cards
      Even in today's digital workplace, business cards are still standard currency for initial-contact networking events across most industries, so definitely bring along a supply. If your job doesn't provide them, or if you are currently in a professional transition, you may want to consider ordering your own set of business cards from an online provider.
    1. Introduce Yourself
      Networking events can be awkward. Particularly if you're an introvert, starting conversations may not come naturally. Remember: Everyone at this event shares the common experience of having attended Williams, as well as a sincere desire to support one another. That's what it means to be an Eph. Besides, everyone will be wearing a name tag!
    2. Ask Questions
      Too often we encounter people who are interested only in talking about themselves. Instead of wasting golden opportunities by blabbing about yourself, ask thoughtful questions—and actually listen to the answers.
    3. Take Notes
      You probably won't remember the important details of every conversation, so it can be helpful to write them down. After mingling with a few people, find a corner of the room to subtly make notes on the back of each person's business card about who she is, what you talked about and any follow-up you want to do.
    4. Be a Connector
      Instead of focusing only on making your own connections, make an effort to connect others. When speaking with someone, think about whether there's someone else at the event who could help (or be helped by) this person, and then make an introduction.
    1. Follow Up Promptly
      A few days after the event, send follow-up emails and/or LinkedIn invitations to anyone you meet with whom you'd like to continue networking. Make sure to personalize each message, letting that person know you enjoyed meeting them and mentioning something that you talked about. A tip: One of the quickest ways to stop a connection is to send someone a generic LinkedIn invite.