Center for Career & Professional Development

Networking Tips

Whether you are still attending USF for your degree or you are an alumni trying to begin your career, networking is essential if you want to gain connections, grow professionally and seek new opportunities.

What is networking?

Networking is a process where you begin to build a group of acquaintances and continue to keep it active through regular communication. While some people view networking as just an opportunity to give your elevator speech or hand out business cards, the foundational idea of networking focuses more on how you can help others, rather than what can you get from them.

One way to network is to conduct informational interview. There is no greater time than when you are a college student to contact a professional to ask to learn about his/her career and company. An informational interview is best when it can be conducted in person meeting. You can offer to bring a cup of coffee or tea of their choice. This can be completed in an hour or less and by phone all depending on the professionals schedule. This is a way to gain the inside scoop to determine if this is the right career or the corporate culture for you. The person becomes a part of your network. This link prepares you on how to find and complete an information interview.

Follow-Up Plan for Networking

Take a look at these steps, as adapted from Chameleon Resumes:

  • Make notes on the conversations or happenings at the event.
  • List the top favorite people or companies you met.
  • Research the company or contact’s website or LinkedIn accounts. Be prepared to demonstrate your interest in the company or career.
  • Think about the purpose or benefit for them to stay in touch with you.
  • Send a thank you note or email within 24 hours. This should tell them how you enjoyed meeting them, how you would like to keep in touch based on common goals or interests, or ask them what they thought of the event or if they mind connecting with you via LinkedIn.
  • Call and share an interest in what they do. Ask for an informational interview – an opportunity to gain insight on their career and their organization.
  • Enter the contact information into a contact management system.

Opportunities to Network

Take a look at the Local Networking Groups page to meet up with others at events in the Sarasota-Manatee area!