How do I network?
I know that when I go to college it is going to be important to be active in my major (activities/clubs/organizations) but how exactly do I go about reaching out to people that might be able to help me advance my career? What do I say? For example, I want to be an aerospace engineer... where do I even start networking? career-path business career networking career-choice aerospace reachingout active career-options career-path entrylevel
I think there's two components for networking success: 1) a really compelling, brief (like 30 seconds or less) "about me" and 2) learning to ask good questions. People like to talk about themselves. As a new networker, use this to your advantage: be brief when discussing yourself, and ask questions to get the other person to open up. In my experience, the more you let people talk about themselves, the more they like you!
If you are reaching out to someone you don't know--say, an upper classman you heard about but haven't met--via email or LinkedIn, the same ideas hold true. For example, a good networking email might be something like:
Hello [upper classman]:
I'm a freshman at [University] interested in majoring in aerospace engineering because [brief statement about why this is your passion.] I got your name from [mutual contact name]. I was hoping we could discuss [your favorite classes, your summer internship, your experience job search in the field] so I can learn more about my future field. Would you be open to setting up a 30 minute meeting or call sometime in the next few weeks?
That's all it takes! Some people may not reply--don't take it personally. Those that do are the sort of people you want in your network (use your initial conversation as a starting place to keep in touch). Make the conversation about them and their experience, balanced with your experience when you have things in common. It'll take some practice to get good at this. Have patience with yourself and enjoy the process.
I would say that when it comes to networking, you just need to start networking. That means actually going to meetings around the clubs and other activities that you have mentioned. There is no right way to network except by meeting new people. You never know who is going to be able to help your career. While you already know that you want to enter a very specialized field, it is not only people in that field who will be able to help you. For example, when you are in college, there may be a course or subject that gives you problems. Let's say English or History. It would be great if you already knew someone who was really good in the subject where you are not strong. Getting their support will help you get a better grade with less stress and ensure that you graduate from school. So networking for a specific job is a limiting way to think about it. You should meet different kinds of people with skills different from you. You just never know who is going to get you to where you want to go in life. You may meet someone who knows someone that is in your career field. You may meet someone who has a skill that you would like to learn, like public speaking, that will support specific kinds of roles that you may dream about. When you saw aerospace engineer, I think the head of NASA.
There are a few keys to networking. Stay in touch with people you meet that you like and admire. Make sure that you make connections with them on a variety of levels, not just the work. People refer people that they feel they know and like. Connect in a formal way. One way is a tool like LinkedIn to keep it business or another social media platform that reflects your shared interests. For example, I keep Facebook personal, no business interactions. However, Twitter and LinkedIn feel more business or serious, rather than personal. You should also be selective about your network. You don't need to connect with every single person you meet. A network is a group of acquaintances that you want to stay in touch with. Keeping the group manageable allows you to stay better connected. Now I have a friend whose network is very large, several hundred people. She loves the interaction with a wide variety of people and network is global. I am too introverted to maintain that kind of network. Just try a variety of tactics until you find something that works for you.
This is a great question, and something I also initially struggled with in college! Based on the college that you attend, there will be a plethora of networking opportunities afforded to you by the clubs pertaining to your major. For example, since you're interested in Aerospace Engineering, you could join the American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics at your college! Most likely, this club will host speakers from the field, and you'll be able to speak with them 1-on-1 after their talks in order to network. Make sure you have a plan when you go talk to them though, and always remember to get their contact information whether that be phone number, email, or LinkedIn connection! Also, you can network with your Aerospace Engineering professors who will not only be well connected within academia, but also within the wider field as well. This networking can be done in the form of attending professors' office hours, being a teaching assistant for a professor/class that you enjoyed, or even doing research with them!
In addition, during your time in college, you'll most likely take on an internship or co-op (or multiple even!). While you're interning/co-oping, you'll be exposed to professionals in your field, and you'll have the opportunity to reach out and setup 1-on-1s to chat with them. Don't be afraid to cold email someone, even those in positions like Vice President or Director! Most people will be happy to talk to you about their career journey! It is especially important to look for mentors during those internships/co-ops even if you're assigned one (the more the merrier, as long as you can dedicate time to them). These mentors can continue to support you even after you finish your internship, and some may even become mentors for life.
Lastly, there's something that you can start doing even now! LinkedIn (the professional social networking site) is a wonderful place to message others in your field. People are often happy to talk to you about their career journey and help you get to where you want to be! On LinkedIn, you can search for people within the Aerospace Engineering field, at companies you might want to intern/work at, as well as reach out to those in positions you might want to hold later in life!
Good luck with your career journey, and I think it's amazing that you want to pursue Aerospace Engineering!
I would suggest when you start college to attend the initial college fair if they do have one. Typically colleges will host fairs at the beginning of the school year to draw interest from new students to clubs, sport teams, etc and a way to begin networking is to simply show up and start a discussion with someone.
With the world becoming a very virtual environment, I suggest also creating a LinkedIn profile as soon as possible which will be your professional media profile. To use your example of an aerospace engineer, once you have a LinkedIn profile, start searching for people with job titles similar to "aerospace engineer". Once you find someone go ahead and send them a direct message explaining that you are heading to college soon and have interest in a career as an aerospace engineer and are looking for some guidance on how the person got started in that career field.
You will find that more often than not people are willing to take some time out of their day to provide advice/guidance to someone with interest in their career field. Best of luck!! I hope this helps. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there, you never know when you are going to make a connection that will set you up for a bright future.
If you are looking for some aerospace engineering career advice, talk with a professor/advisor that you're comfortable with and see if they can help or link you with an upperclassmen with similar career goals. In a few years time, your network within college will become your network within the industry so be open to any and all connections no matter where they originate from!
Make connections out of usual circle of friends and acquaintances. People rarely ignore a connection request.
I found people helped me later.
I also send many congratulations and birthday notes. It shows you care beyond needing employment advice.
Hope that helps!
All the best
When I was in college and tried to social network, I firstly talked to my professors, and asked some questions like insights to the industry and business environment. I also asked whether he/she knows someone from upper classes or who had already graduated were workin in the industry/companies you were interested in. Then, you could ask a referral.
I think LinkedIn is definitely a good resource, too. Just search the business title and the company names you are interested in, and send them a brief message about yourself. Most of the people are very willing to help!
And, don't be afraid to be rejected!
Hope above small tips are useful! Thanks!