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Networking is simply making connections and building professional relationships with others. It is a powerful tool that can help you both explore career options and expand your opportunities to secure positions.

A high percentage of jobs are obtained through networking. Connecting with people out in the workplace will help you make better career decisions, write stronger resumes and cover letters, and conduct a more efficient and effective job search. Every day you have an opportunity to network and you never know where a conversation might lead.

Networking is NOT

  • Asking immediately for a job
  • A quick process
  • A one-way process
  • For outgoing people only

Networking IS:

  • Building relationships
  • Planned or unplanned
  • Intentional
  • A two-way process
  • For all types of personalities
  • A mindset
Who is in your network?

Your network consists of everyone you know and your potential network is made up of everyone you have yet to meet. This can include, but is not limited to, family, friends, peers, and colleagues. The beauty of connecting is that your network also includes people they know and can expand to alumni, people who used to work for the same organization, and more. Many of these people should have an understanding of the kind of work you want to do, and perhaps know some of your key strengths.

How to Build Your Network:
Career Conversations, a.k.a. Informational Interviews
  • Your chance to ask questions about an industry, organization, and career path to learn from those who are already in roles that might interest you. These are often a great place to start with networking and can lead to new connections, shadowing, and larger opportunities.
  • Connect with others who share a mutual interest.
  • Consider opportunities on and off campus to meet more people who may plan to pursue a similar path. Examples include clubs, professional organizations, and volunteer opportunities.
Employer Information Sessions
  • Attend to learn about the organization, the industry, and the people there, or to meet and engage with current employees to expand your connections.
Meet Ups
  • Learn about a particular career path to explore options and gather ideas for your own path.
Career & Internship and Graduate & Professional School Fairs
  • You can either target your conversations to priority organizations, or you can introduce yourself to people from a variety of places to extend your reach.
Alumni Events
  • Every W&M alum is part of your network. Homecoming and Charter Day are examples of when alumni return to campus and are great opportunities to meet people, share goals, and build connections. You can also attend alumni events in, and around, your hometown when on breaks.
  • Both a research and communication platform connecting you with professionals and peers across all industries. This includes more than 80,000 William & Mary alumni, who are a great place to start networking since they are likely to say yes to a conversation. You can filter by current location and employer, as well as academic major, job function, and skills.
  • Build and maintain your professional online profile.
  • Engage on LinkedIn by building connections, joining groups, following organizations, and communicating with others.
One Network
  • Easily search, identify, and message members of your W&M global network for career connections.
  • Help others find you, by building and maintaining a complete profile on One Network.
How to Reach Out to Begin a Conversation

While you network, it is beneficial to communicate clearly and professionally. When reaching out digitally, try drafting your messages ahead of time to ensure they are error free. Always be polite and reasonable with requests and be sure to follow up with a thank you message. Make sure to keep track of who you have contacted so you can follow up if appropriate.

Professional correspondence can show potential connections that you are prepared to succeed in a professional environment. The information and samples provided below can help you communicate well in the professional world. Your new connections might originate through a LinkedIn connection, family or friend referral, or an organization’s contact page from their website.

Initial Outreach Talking Points
  • Establish "common ground"
    • Topics include William & Mary, hometown, campus involvement, and/or industry of interest
  • Keep the message brief and to the point
    • Give your reason for contact, and the action steps of the message should be clear
    • The intent is to open the conversation; you can get more specific later
  • Provide your general availability
  • Be aware of grammar, spelling, and professional tone
  • If you do not receive a response within 1-2 weeks, it's acceptable to send a follow up message
Sample: Initial Outreach

Dear Ms. Evans:

I am a junior at William & Mary with an interest in wildlife conservation and education, and was excited to see your position of Marketing Director at the Indianapolis Zoo on your LinkedIn profile.

I wanted to reach out to a William & Mary alum in this field and was hoping you could provide me with some advice and information. My experience at the Heritage Humane Society has sparked my desire to seek an internship at a zoo this summer. I know this field is competitive, and want to best prepare myself as an applicant. Public outreach is an interest of mine, and I was impressed by the variety of programs in place through your department. Is it possible to schedule a brief (30 minutes) phone meeting with you to learn more about the organization and your career path? I am available Monday and Wednesday evenings after 5:00pm and Thursdays at 12:00pm, and can be flexible for other options if those times don’t work for you.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Rebecca Greengold

Sample: Initial Outreach (300 character limit)

My name is Todd and I’m a senior economics major at W&M. Your professional background mirrors some of my own goals in finance. I’d greatly appreciate it if you’d be willing to set up a time for a short chat via Zoom or phone so I can learn more about your background and advice for a new W&M grad.

Sample: Staying in Touch

Hi Susan:

I hope you are well, and enjoying the beautiful fall colors. During our conversation over the summer, we discussed my volunteer position at the Heritage Humane Society and the events we were planning. I am happy to report that all three were successful! I further developed my photography and graphic design skills with the "Tails on the Trail" and "Drool in the Pool" events, and enjoyed blogging for the "Animal Camp" program. You can see and read the event highlights at I'm looking forward to my junior year at William & Mary and hope we'll continue to stay in touch.

Have a great day!


Your "Elevator" Pitch

You should develop and practice saying your 20-second self-branding introduction. In more social situations, you would only pull this out if someone asks you what you do. However, in a more job-focused conversation, such as at a career fair, this will be one of the first things you say after introducing yourself.

  • Example 1: I'm a William & Mary student focusing my career interests in the communications and public relations field, as I've found through my experiences that I have a real knack for getting a point across to a broader audience.
  • Example 2: I’m a currently a student at William & Mary and have had success supporting nonprofits in our community. Recently, my campus organization increased fundraising efforts for a local facility assisting women from abusive relationships by influencing other students to help.