The M.S. in Commerce Program was instrumental in expanding my network, giving me the opportunity to build relationships with a new group of students, professors, and McIntire alumni. However, many students do not understand the true value of networking and its impact on professional development.
What Is a Network?
A network is a group of people, such as friends, relatives, classmates, professors, or anyone that can be of assistance throughout your job search. Building a network is important because it gives you access to people who provide information about a company or role and even connects you with job opportunities.
Where Should You Start?
Commerce Career Services (CCS) is an excellent resource to start the networking process. First, they collect the contact information of M.S. in Commerce alumni willing to help current students find careers. Students also have the option to enroll in a mentoring program with McIntire alumni who provide additional resources. Additionally, CCS has crafted detailed guides that take your networking to the next level, explaining how to write effective emails and much more.
LinkedIn is the most popular social media platform specifically designed to help you network. LinkedIn can help you build your own network and, more importantly, stay in touch with your connections. This is a valuable tool because users can search for other professionals based on common interests. There are also LinkedIn groups for M.S. in Commerce alumni and current students that can help you in your job search as well. These groups allow you to message other group members without being connected.
You don’t need to know what role you are interested in applying to in order to network with someone. If you see someone with an interesting job title or working at an innovative company, reach out to them to learn more about it. You will never know unless you ask!
Networking Tips and Tricks
- Make the first move: Whether by LinkedIn message, by email, or through mutual connections, you should reach out to them first. It may be intimidating, but remember, they were in your shoes at one point, too.
- Be prepared: I recommend sitting down the night before your call and writing down a list of questions to ask. If someone is taking time out of their day to talk to you, make it worthwhile for them.
- Be yourself: The entire goal of networking is to build relationships, so there is no need to put on an act.
- Follow up with a thank you: A brief follow-up email will go a long way.
There isn’t one correct way to network, so I recommend trying a variety of methods. It can be intimidating at first, but McIntire will give you everything you need to succeed. A great way to start building your McIntire network is to reach out to one of our Student Ambassadors.