Networking Strategies and Resources

You've probably heard it before—networking is key to your success on the job market. But how do you start? Many people feel anxious or overwhelmed at the thought of networking. Never fear, the UCSC Career Center is here for you. Take a look through our Strategies and Resources below for inspiration and advice to begin building your personal and professional network. 


Identifying your Network Building Your Network
For some, “I don’t have a network. I don’t know anyone,” may be your first reaction. But you probably know more people than you think. Start by listing everyone you know who could be potential prospects: After identifying your existing network, find areas to expand. Below are a few ways to meet new people in your field to expand your network. Once you’ve identified networking opportunities, employ our networking strategies below to make them worthwhile.
  • Family members (immediate & extended)
  • Friends
  • Friends of parents
  • Parents of friends
  • Neighbors
  • Members of organizations/ clubs
  • Faculty
  • Classmates
  • Teammates
  • Roommates
  • Supervisors
  • Co-workers
  • Professional associations
  • Local community events 
  • Connect on LinkedIn
  • Job Shadow
  • Conduct Informational Interviews
  • Alumni associations
  • Classmates –who do they know?
  • Community clubs
  • Former employers, including supervisors and coworkers.
  • Hobby groups: Hiking, gardening, yoga, etc.
  • Members of sports clubs: Health club, softball team, hiking club
  • Members of your church, temple, synagogue or mosque
  • Participants in trade shows, seminars or workshops you've attended
  • Political groups
  • Professional associations
  • Service or fraternal organizations and groups: Rotary, Kiwanis, etc.
  • Volunteer associations: United Way, Big Brothers Big Sisters, etc.
  • Campus panels/events/fairs
  • Industry conferences
  • Social media sites
  • Faculty, Professors, Staff

Networking Strategies


  1. Conduct Informational Interviews
  2. Evaluate Your Online Presence
  3. Join Relevant Organizations
  4. Attend Networking Events
  5. Attend a Conference or Workshop
  6. Volunteer at a Relevant Organization
  7. Say "Yes" To Invitations
  8. Practice
  9. Show Interest in Others
  10. Follow-Up
  11. Be Patient


1. Conduct Informational Interviews

  • In an informational interview, you ask a professional about their real-life experiences, challenges and opportunities, benefits and demands, and opportunities and limitations of a field you're interested in. Learning firsthand from people in careers you're considering can be one of your most valuable resources in finding out what working in an industry, company, or position is really like!
  • See our Informational Interview page for information about the best way to conduct an informational interview.
2. Evaluate Your Online Presence
  • Are you on LinkedIn? What does your Twitter profile and handle say about you? Joining and maintaining a cohesive and thorough online presence can help you network with other job seekers, find out about jobs, and stay up-to-date on conversations in your field.


3. Join Relevant Organizations
  • Joining professional associations or student groups helps you connect with others who are interested in the same field as you. By connecting with others with similar interest you can learn more about your field and gain useful contacts for future job or internship opportunities.
  • Finding organizations
    • Browse UCSC student organizations
    • Make an appointment with a career coach to find more resources
    • Browse your major’s website. Major departments often have internal academic/professional development/community programs. 
    • Social media. Find one organization on Twitter, Instagram, etc., and see what accounts they are following and interacting with


4. Attend Networking Events
  • Unsure of where to start with networking? Attending a networking event can be a fun and low pressure way to meet new people.
  • Not sure where to find a networking event? Check out Handshake to see upcoming events hosted by UCSC and external employers.
  • Check to see if UCSC has any alumni networking events coming up. Likewise, see if your undergraduate institution or high school alma mater has any networking events coming up.
  • Before you go, do some research about who might be there and who is hosting the event. Networking events are great opportunities to interact directly with recruiters and hiring managers so you’ll want to be prepared.
  • When you do go, bring business cards so that you’ll have some ready in case someone asks you for one, have your pitch about who you are, and what you’re looking for ready.


5. Attend a Conference or Workshop
  • Conferences and workshops are great ways to meet new individuals and gain potential employment contacts.
  • Attending a conference or workshop is also a great way to stay up-to-date with current industry trends and conversations.


6. Volunteer at a Relevant Organization
  • Interested in a specific field but not sure where to begin or how to make contacts? If possible, consider volunteering for them.
  • Visit the Student Volunteer Center to find opportunities on and around campus.


7. Say “Yes” to Invitations.
  • By actively engaging in circles of friends or professionals, you can gain more access to new people and new contacts.


8. Practice
  • Networking can be nerve wracking. If you’re planning on going to a networking event, ask a friend or trusted colleague to practice with you so that you can prepare to introduce yourself and having a new conversation.
  • Before you go to an event, it can be helpful to give yourself a goal. For instance, do you want to have conversations with a certain number of people? 


9. Show Interest in Others
  • Remember—networking is simply the process of meeting people and having conversations. If you want to make a good impression, then be a good conversationalist: show interest in others, ask questions, be warm and friendly. Networking is about building a relationship; it’s about both parties involved, not just your interests and wants.
  • Try not to hijack the conversation by delivering a sales pitch or by hijacking the conversation to make it all about yourself. Networking is building a web of connections and contacts, not self-promotion.


10. Follow-Up

  • If you’ve made a connection at an event, ask for the best way to stay in touch.
  • After you’ve gone to an event and made a connection, make sure to follow-up with that person via the method they suggested was the best way for them within 48 hours after the event.


11. Be Patient

  • Networking should be seen as a continual process that you will build and utilize throughout your career. Don’t feel frustrated if after a few events you feel you haven’t made any connections; keep at it and your connections will grow with time



Career Advice Network

  • The Career Advice Network is a database of hundreds of alumni who have volunteered to be advisors for students and recent graduates. Alumni advisors create a professional profile, which can be set-up in under five minutes by importing your LinkedIn profile, and become a part of a live, searchable database, accessible to students and recent graduates who have signed up as advisees.

Versatile PhD

  • Versatile PhD is an online community specifically for individuals with PhDs who are hoping to transition outside of academia. Subscribers can explore career paths, talk to other members of the community, see job listings specifically for PhD holders, network with other members, and attend local meet-ups.
  • Subscribers can also see the profiles process of successful PhD holders who transitioned beyond academia (you can see the job listing they applied for, their cover letter, resume, etc.). For community, inspiration, and content, Versatile PhD is a valuable resource.
  • The Career Center subscribes to this resource to help inform graduate students about job searching realities. Graduate student alumni gain FREE Premium Contact Access by contacting Chris Arends at


  • LinkedIn is an online platform that allows you to build a profile and connect with other job seekers, and recruiters. It is a great tool for professional networking.

Click here to go back to the top.  


Do you want to confidentially brainstorm with someone about how to network? Make an appointment with one of our Career Coaches today!