Networking is the process of establishing valuable connections with professionals, peers, and alumni, which can lead to mentorship, job opportunities, industry insights, collaborations, and a broader support system for personal and professional growth. Networking opens doors to new possibilities.​

Networking doesn't need to be uncomfortable. It's all about building lasting and mutually beneficial professional relationships that will help you get connected, discover opportunities, and get ahead.​

Group of 4 students sitting around a table smiling and talking

Why Network?

  • Employers often prefer to hire people they know, or who have connections to people they know. Building a professional network means you can get advice, referrals and inside information from experts in your field.​

  • Gain first-hand, current information about the world of work to help develop your job-search strategy.​

  • Connect to experts who have knowledge of trends and opportunities in your field.​

  • Meet interesting, like-minded people who may end up being your future supervisors or colleagues.

Who to Network With?

  • Who's already in your network now?​

  • Networking doesn’t just happen at planned professional events; it also occurs in your daily interactions with classmates, faculty, family, friends, neighbors, acquaintances, supervisors and co-workers. Talk to these people about your career-related goals and see if they connect you to others and be prepared for unexpected networking opportunities.​

  • The people you meet and the friends you make while at Western are a part of your network too. They may be fellow students and peers now, but in 5 or 10 years they will be working professionals. Investing in these relationships can pay off in the future.

A group of three young people talking to an older person around a table with coffee cups
Large group of people talking in groups within a company lounge room
group of three students sitting on blue bean back chairs talking and working on their laptop computers

Where to Network

Anywhere you are interacting with new people! ​

​There are many ways to connect with employers and professionals in your area of interest. Here are some specific places and ways to meet people:​

  • LinkedIn
  • Conferences​
  • Social Media Groups​
  • Workshops & Webinars​
  • Volunteer Activities​
  • Book Clubs​
  • Outdoor activities​
  • Hobbies​
  • Arts & Entertainment​
  • Political Events

How to Network

A good introduction will include your name, what you’re currently doing and the area or type of work you’re interested in. ​

​30-Second introduction

​Start with:​

  • My name is...​
  • I'm a Western student studying...​

Then one of the following:​

  • I would like to gain experience in...​
  • I’m curious about...​
  • My long-term career goal is… ​

​Then ask them about themselves. Networking is as much about listening as it is talking.

  • Always prepare for a networking meeting, even if it’s informal. ​
  • Learn as much as you can about the person you’re meeting with (via Google, LinkedIn, etc.), their organization and industry.​
  • Preparation will demonstrate your enthusiasm and keeps the conversation flowing.
  • First impressions count, so ensure that you wear clothing that is appropriate for the field or the setting. ​
  • Visit the WWU Career Closet for free, professional clothing!​
  • You may also want to consider bringing business cards with you or at least a way to capture contact information.
  • Open-ended questions such as “what brings you to this event?” can start conversations and allow you to learn about others without being too personal. ​
  • Demonstrate your interest by asking questions, being genuine and avoid dominating the conversation. 

Hello, my name is [your name]. What’s yours?​

  • “Nice to meet you. What brings you to this event today?”​
  • “I noticed you're also in [industry/field]. What inspired you to get into this line of work?”​

Follow up question: What do you enjoy most about it?​

  • “I saw on your name tag that you work at [company]. I've heard great things about your company's recent [project/achievement]. Can you tell me more about that?”

  • Don’t spend your entire evening at an event talking to one person. ​
  • Give yourself and others the opportunity to network with different people. 
  • “It's been really wonderful chatting with you and learning about your experiences. I want to make sure I connect with a few more people before the event ends. Enjoy the rest of your evening!”​
  • “I've enjoyed our conversation and appreciate the valuable insights you've shared. I should circulate and meet a few more people here. Perhaps we can catch up later in the evening.”​
  • “It's been a pleasure getting to know you and discussing [topic]. I don't want to monopolize your time, as I'm sure there are others you'd like to connect with too. Let's definitely stay in touch.” [offer business card or request theirs]
  • Most people you meet will not offer you a job, but you never know who’s connected to whom. ​
  • You can increase your chances of reaching your goals by talking to and making a good impression on as many people as you can.
  • Successful networking builds mutually beneficial, positive relationships. ​
  • Allow people to join your conversations at events, while reaching out, sharing information and connecting to people in your network.  
  • Thank everyone you meet or who gives you advice. ​
  • Continue to follow-up with your contacts even after you’ve obtained a job to develop and maintain your network for the future. ​
  • You can do so through email or LinkedIn.​
  • Follow up with a request for an informational interview.

Networking for Introverts

Unlike extroverts, who gain energy by being around people, networking is uncomfortable for most introverts. This isn’t because introverts are socially inept or prefer cats to humans, but because they require alone time to recharge. The good news is being an introvert doesn’t affect your ability to network and connect with others!​

​What is an introvert? Check out The Quiet Power Of Introverts video from BBC Ideas. ​

​Check out the Introvert’s Guide to Networking video from Jeff Su for networking strategies from a self-described introvert. ​