Network with the Lavin Entrepreneurship Center
Entrepreneurs Know the Power of Networking
Networking is the essential building block to building a solid career in something that you love doing. And your network will help support you, find a job, cultivate a mentor, etc. Here are some strategies to maximizing your networking abilities.
1. Brainstorm for Contacts
Think of everyone who could possibly serve as a contact but take care not to limit your list to people who could clearly help you out. People in unrelated fields often have contacts they would be happy to share with you. To get you started with your list, here are some suggestions:
- Family friends
- SDSU Alumni
- Former employees/co-workers
- Local politicians
- Non-profit professionals
- Influential community members
- Members of professional organizations
2. Where the Contacts Are - Places to Network
- Local Alumni Association
- Professional organization's events
- Speaker events
- Industry Conventions
- Volunteer events
- Professional workshops
- Clubs on campus
3. Always Be Prepared
You should approach networking opportunities with a game plan. Do your homework before attending an event or meeting. Find out who will be there, or do your best to list who you think might make an appearance and decide who you would most like to meet. Thoroughly research their work and their backgrounds and then think of questions and comments based on your research.
4. Networking Knows No Boundaries
Invaluable contacts and life-changing opportunities often surprise us. While it may have been sheer luck that you bumped into a friendly CEO, alum or executive, your prepared approach to networking can turn a banal exchange into a pivotal moment in your career path. Always be ready to make a new contact and exchange business cards. Once again, don't discount someone who has no clear connection to your ambitions, you never know how that person might help you in the future. Or how powerful their network really is.
5. Follow Up and Keep in Touch
After meeting a potential contact, it is absolutely essential to write a thank you note or at a minimum a thank you email. Tell them how much he or she helped you, refer to particularly helpful, specific advice, and bring up details about the conversation that are relevant and remind them of your interaction. Everyone - even the most high-level executive - enjoys feeling appreciated.
6. What Goes Around Comes Around
If you want your phone calls and emails returned, call and write back to the people who contact you in a timely manner. If you want influencers to make time for you, make yourself available to others whom you might be able to help out. It's that simple. Pay it forward.
7. Make It Easy For Your Contacts
When you call, meet with, or email a potential contact, make it as easy as possible for them to help you. Explain what you specifically want, and ask detail-oriented questions. For example, "I am a student with a technical background. Do you know anyone who works at a tech start-up? May I have their names and phone numbers? May I use your name when I introduce myself to them?" Another segue into a productive conversation is to solicit career tips and advice. Most people love to talk about themselves, by asking for valuable insight from his or her personal experiences and successes, he or she will feel important and respected.
8. Stay Organized
Keep records of your contacts! Whether you do this on your phone, in your email, in a notebook, or in a database on your computer, it's a key to good networking. Make sure your system has plenty of room for contacts' names, addresses, phone numbers, companies, job titles, how you met them, and conversations you've had with them.