White man in button-up and suit coat talking to White man with long hair, beard

The Art of Networking in Graduate School

Networking is more than just exchanging business cards. Master the art of networking with these five simple concepts, recommended by a graduate student.

The art of networking is more than exchanging business cards. Times have changed where the concept of networking is always adapting, dependent on the industry. Plus, depending on who you ask, you may hear one of three things: It’s what you know; it’s who you know; or it’s who knows you. Networking is an easy concept but not always easy in execution depending on what type of person you are. Here are five simply concepts to follow to help you master the art of networking and build professional relationships that will boost your future success.

Know your brand

Who are you? What are you trying to do with your life? What are your aspirations? What is your passion? Try your best to answer these questions—they will help you navigate through the many conversations you will have with other graduate students as well as current professionals in the field. As a grad student, you should already have some kind of idea that enables you to effectively articulate who you are and what you’re about. Again, depending on what kind of industry you are trying to enter, this could be a different experience for anyone.

Related: How to Start Networking: Top Tips and Tricks

Remember business card etiquette

As an undergraduate business student, I was told to remember a few key steps when exchanging business cards. First of all, always make sure you are ready to provide a business card to the person you are talking to. Personally, I have seen too many situations where a person will check every single pocket of their outfit and end up running out of business cards. Although this is not necessarily a make-or-break moment, it decreases the likelihood that the person you’re networking with will actually keep in contact with you. Secondly, when you exchange business cards, be sure to write a note on the back of their card to remind you how you two got connected in the first place. Next, keep the business card in your hand until you are done talking to the person you’re networking with. Too often a person will not be mindful of where they put another person’s business card while they’re chatting; within five minutes they may actually lose the business card, and therefore lose the contact. The moment you two part ways, make sure you are able to make sense of the note you wrote on the back of the business card and then safely place it somewhere you won’t forget.

Follow the 72-hour rule

As a member of an international co-ed business fraternity, I was advised to remember the 72-hour rule. Let’s say you attend a conference from Friday to Sunday. According to the 72-hour rule, you should try to contact everyone you connected with by the following Wednesday. (This allows folks to get settled back into their daily routines.) Contacting them shows initiative; it shows how serious you are about developing a professional relationship, and you don’t have to worry about them forgetting about you since the interaction you had is still somewhat fresh in their mind.

Related: 4 Easy Networking Strategies for Online Students

Check in with them

Let’s say a few months go by since you and your new contact have spoken. Make an effort to do a simple check in with them. A quick message via email or even a phone call just to see how work is treating them conveys how genuine you want the relationship to be. It also shows them that you two are not just going to talk to each other once and then forget about each other until the next conference. You would be surprised how many people I unfortunately have not spoken to since I first emailed them due to our lives getting caught up with the craft of our work.

Plan to reconnect

As a graduate student, there are at least five conferences a month that are happening in my field of student affairs. Anytime I have the opportunity to go to a conference, I make an effort to reach out to folks I haven’t seen or spoken to in a long while. I always try to give people a heads up so we can reconnect and continue from where we left off. The conversation may have started at a conference, but it doesn’t mean that it is where it has to stay.

Related: How to Land Your Dream Career Using Social Media

As I said before, networking can be very easy for some, while overwhelming and difficult for others. As I also said before, networking looks different depending on what kind of grad program you’re in, what kind of professional development opportunities are available, and what the culture looks like for the field you’re trying to enter. But at the end of the day, networking can provide many doors for you to open. You are the key to your success.

Check out the tag “networking” to find even more great advice on connecting with other professionally.

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now

Tags:
career search grad school graduate school job search networking professionalism

About Kevin Wright

Kevin Wright is a first-generation graduate student from Las Vegas, Nevada, and earned his master's in Student Affairs Administration from Lewis & Clark College in 2016. Kevin graduated from Northern Arizona University in 2014, where he studied Communication Studies with a minor in Sociology. His hobbies include traveling, networking, going to concerts, and endlessly watching Netflix. Kevin aspires to become a college president so he can advocate for more affordability and accessibility for students wanting to pursue higher education.

 

Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
CollegeXpress Logo

$10,000

Are you our next winner?

Register now for our scholarship giveaway

Chris Bell

Chris Bell

Bell College Consulting

The college lists on CollegeXpress are indispensable for sussing out creative additions to a student’s list, and the college-specific pages provide terrific commentary and suggestions for related schools. CollegeXpress is among the most trusted sources I use for information for my students.

Hailey Riddile

Hailey Riddile

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress has helped me find scholarships to apply for and look into more colleges. While there are many websites similar to CollegeXpress, every website is different, and I've found a lot of good insight on this website. Receiving emails from CollegeXpress about scholarships is extremely useful, and getting insight about colleges near, far, and anywhere in between helps me narrow down my choices to what I want, which is also super helpful. The articles are always really good reads, and I can't stress enough how helpful this website has been to me. Anything related to college is beneficial to me as a senior, and I have learned lots of useful things to help me on my college journey this year.

Jenna

Jenna

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress has helped me greatly during my college search. I used their college search feature often and it helped in comparing schools I was looking at. Now that I’ve found a college the scholarship search feature is helping me find a way to find my college experience. CollegeXpress has many helpful features and resources for anyones college search, it truly is a wonderful tool for anyone entering college level!

Monica

Monica

High School Class of 2023

Being a sophomore in high school, I never really worried about college. I thought it wasn't important to worry about until senior year. Through this program opportunity I came across, I realized how important it is to start looking at colleges early and start planning ahead. CollegeXpress has opened my eyes to what colleges require, what colleges are near me, and what they offer. The daily emails I get from CollegeXpress really help me look at the different options I have and what colleges I fit into. Without this website, I would not be taking the time out of my day to worry about what my future will be nor what opportunities I have. I could not be more grateful for such an amazing and useful website. It's thanks to CollegeXpress that not only me but my family now know how much potential I have in to getting into these colleges/universities that we thought were out of my reach.

Courtney Smith

Courtney Smith

High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress has been a huge help! The website is very organized with finding the right scholarship for anyone and anything. With CollegeXpress, I've been able to find many scholarship opportunities to apply for. Not only that, I'm also able to search for the colleges I have interest in and see what’s required and what scholarships they offer. I've learned a lot from CollegeXpress. They've helped me in many ways to achieve my goals!

College Matches