Networking tips for the holiday season

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Although November is the time for Netflix specials and winter-themed coffee drinks, it also brings around the most intense time of year: internship season. After being at UC Berkeley for nearly two years, it’s evident that Berkeley takes this time of year very seriously. So, whether you have a networking event in the near future or are looking for where to start the process, here are some pieces of advice to help you network.

Before you get started.

Because we all know it can be difficult to even get started with networking. 

Do your research. The first step in the networking process is to do your research. Now, there are two ways to do this: by the industry you want or by the company you would like to work with. Searching by just the overall industry will give you a wider variety of people to reach out to that are either starting in the industry or have established careers. On the other hand, searching by the company gives you opportunities to reach out to numerous people within the same company, which could bolster your chances of getting connections. Either way, resources such as Handshake for internships and LinkedIn for connections are both excellent resources to get started with. 

Don’t be afraid to initiate conversation. Making the first move can be scary, especially when the person you are looking to contact has lots of experience in the industry. When emailing, try making an email and LinkedIn message template, and personalize it for every person you send it to. This allows you to reach out to more people and not overthink the email itself. When it comes to real-life networking, look for networking events that are being hosted in your area — usually at colleges — and before attending, do some research on the people that are going to be there that you may want to talk to. 

Keep things open-ended. When it is your first conversation or first email, always leave the door open for future conversations. That could either be by exchanging contact information or suggesting a coffee chat if the professional is interested in doing so. 

You’re there. What now?

You passed the hardest part, getting started! But now you are faced with the question: How do you actually network

Ask well-researched and insightful questions. This may be obvious, but a well-researched and thoughtful question will get you a long way in networking. Since this may be hard to make up on the spot, pre-prepared questions are just as effective as impromptu ones. So, before you head off to a coffee chat or networking event, have a set of questions in mind — they will keep the conversation going and leave a lasting impression. 

Share things about yourself too. Although a coffee chat or networking event is intended to help you get to know different professionals better, it is a great idea to introduce yourself and your interests as well. It helps to make an impression and establish yourself as a young professional. 

Confidence, passion and authenticity go a long way. When it comes down to it, the most important thing to showcase during a coffee chat is to be genuine, passionate and confident. All of these attributes make for a better conversation and build your credibility and character.

When the chat comes to an end…

Be sure to exchange contact information. This could be achieved by suggesting a further conversation or by asking for their email to ask more questions. Either way, it’s important to establish some form of contact to do two things: thank them for their time and set up future conversations.

Keep yourself open to new connections and advice. A few of the most important questions you could ask at the end of a chat revolve around asking for advice and asking for other people you can reach out to within the industry. Ultimately, these questions could be beneficial for you in the long term, and being put into contact with someone else by another professional increases your chances of getting a coffee chat. 

Although this is not the entire list of things to remember for networking season, these tips could help you get started. Now, go enjoy the networking season with a holiday drink!

Contact Isabella Carreno at [email protected].

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