By Nicholas Ferraro, Spec Sr, Career Services, and Career and Professional Development Services
As a STEM student, you have probably heard about, at least on occasion, the importance of networking in science, technology, engineering and mathematics-related fields. Networking can seem draining, time-consuming, and sometimes even awkward. Despite this perception, a strong network can be immensely helpful in your overall career success. Networking helps to generate ideas for the next step in your career path and may even boost the application process for a position you are applying to. Below are strategies to successfully network in the STEM Industry.
When networking, you may have an agenda such as finding an internship, growing your professional circle, and/or selling an idea. However, it is critical that you create meaningful relationships and find a way to genuinely connect with individuals. Let the conversation flow naturally and remember to be real with the person you are speaking to. Practicing your Powerful Introductioncan help grow your networking skills and allow you to make these more meaningful connections. You can even practice with a variety of individuals in easy-to-reach spaces like classrooms and social events.
Tailor your strategies
Much like tailoring one’s application materials to a certain audience, you want to do the same with networking. Do some research prior to a networking event. Often times, you can find what individuals or organizations will be represented simply by doing a little digging. Research ahead of time by looking at the companies you are interested in, the individuals who work there, and the organization’s culture, mission, and values. This may help you start up a conversation and stand out from the crowd.
After any networking program and event, it is important to follow up with the individuals that you connected with. After meeting an individual in a more senior position or who holds a role that you aspire to obtain in the future, be sure to send a follow-up email with your resume (ideally within 24 hours). Another strategy to follow up is by connecting on LinkedIn, expressing your appreciation for their time in a direct message, and highlighting possible next steps for future connections.