Connect with Alumni and Employers

Networking remains the number 1 job search strategy, since only 10-20% of jobs are advertised to the public.

Networking is a process of cultivating and maintaining relationships -  you’ve been doing that your whole life! Networking can be formal or informal and can take place at any time. If you’ve ever talked to a professor, chatted with a family friend, or made conversation with someone on a plane, then you’ve already participated in networking. Networking is an ongoing process that takes time and attention

Networking is not an annoyance. Do not feel like you are bothering, pestering, or using people. Most individuals love to talk about their careers and themselves.

Need career advice? There are over 100,000 alumni that are a part of the UC Santa Cruz network. The Career Advice Network lets you search a database of hundreds of Alumni advisors that have volunteered to mentor current students. You can schedule a resume critique, do a mock interview or have a simple career conversation anytime, anywhere so you’re prepared to land your dream job.   

Why network?

You should network to:

  • Access the hidden job market: Many people use online and paper job postings as their sole job search technique. However, statistics show that only 10% to 20% of jobs are ever published. This means that 80% to 90% of jobs remain hidden in the job market. For this reason, networking remains the number one job search strategy. Learn about job opportunities and how your skills, experience, and education might enable you to make a difference in various organizations

  • Career exploration: Receive information about different sectors, career fields, employers, and job titles, as well as advice on how to break into those areas. 

    Identify and Expand 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:

Identify Your Network Expand Your Network
  • Family members (immediate & extended)
  • Friends
  • Friends of parents
  • Parents of friends
  • Neighbors
  • Members of organizations/ clubs
  • Faculty
  • Classmates
  • Teammates
  • Roommates
  • Supervisors
  • Co-workers
  • Join a professional association in your field
  • Attend local community events 
  • Connect on LinkedIn- post comments in group discussions
  • 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


Conversation Starters


“They have ___! Have you ever tried it?”

“Hmm, I’m not quite sure what that dish is… do you know?”

“Mind if I join you over here where it’s a little quieter?”

“Wow, there are a ton of people here!

“Yum, that drink looks good. What is it?”

“Cute shoes! Where did you get them?”

“Did you catch the game yesterday?”

“Hi, I’m ____. Is this your first time at one of these events?”

“Hello there, I’m ____.  So, how did you hear about this event?”

“What a great place for an event, huh? Have you ever been here before?  I’m ____. Nice to meet you.”

Conversation Endings
“I really enjoyed learning more about your work. Could I get your contact info to schedule a time for us to finish our conversation?”

“Alright, I’m going to get some food now that the line has died down a bit. It was great meeting you!”

“I’ve got to say hello to someone, but I’ll be back (or I’ll see you later).”

Informational Interviewing

If you're unsure about your career goals or feel that you lack relevant experience and knowledge to pursue the career you want, informational interviewing is for you!

It is a chance for you to choose or refine your career path by asking a professional to give you the insider point of view. No one knows better about a particular career than the person doing the job!

Find out more!

Your Professional Image

1) Attire

  • Business attire is strongly recommended for attendance at job fairs, networking receptions, and interviews, whereas business casual attire is often appropriate for employer information sessions, panel discussions, informational interviews and other presentations.

2) Elevator Speech

  • You will need a professional self-introduction on events designed specifically for networking.
  • The casual networking opportunities we encounter nearly every day --  plane flights, waiting in line to buy tickets, and on and on.
  • Career or job fairs.
  • Cold calls to employers.
  • Opportunities within your own company to talk with higher-up honchos, let them know you're doing a great job, and position you for promotion.
  • Job interviews, where the Elevator Speech can provide the answer to at least two common interview queries: "Tell me about yourself" and "Why should I hire you?" 

3) LinkedIn

  • Commonly referred to as the “professional Facebook,” LinkedIn is a professional networking site that allows you to identify and connect with potential networking contacts, research companies, and join professional interest groups.
  • Employers frequently check candidates’ online presence before granting them an interview or selecting them for a position. Is your online presence helping or hurting you? 85% of employers say positive online reputation influences hiring decisions.
  • For more information and a complete handout regarding LinkedIn, click here

4) Portfolium

Portfolium: Join Portfolium to showcase your work for employers! Use this free resource for any major to...

Portfolium logo
  • Create an academic portfolio showcasing your projects, presentations, essays, hobbies, and unique experiences 
  • Elaborate by uploading pictures, PDFs, power points, videos and descriptions of what skills you have learned from each experience.   
  • Share your portfolio with employers, recruiters, family and friends by attaching your URL link to your resume, grad school app., email signature, social media profile etc. 
  • Bring your portfolio to career fairs, networking events, or even into an interview and visually narrate your unique story. 
  • Check out demos on how to use Portfolium here

5)Business Cards

  • A personal business card can be a convenient tool for both you and your newly-found contact.  Keep it concise, easy to read, and professional. The design can reflect the culture of the field or industry you're exploring. You can make inexpensive ones on websites like VistaPrint.


    Importance of following up

An initial meeting or contact with someone does not establish a connection unless there is follow up of some kind. Developing relationships (not just contacts) is key to having access to opportunities. Stay in touch over the long haul—not just when you need something. Make it part of your long-term career plan. 
Always send an email or letter to potential contacts within 2 business days following an initial meeting. You’ve worked hard to initiate this new relationship- keep this connection alive! 
Maintain and Nurture Connections: Ways to follow up
Thank everyone who helps you and keep people posted on your progress.

Follow them on Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn

Congratulate them on career accomplishments

Share relevant career industry articles you’ve read

Invite them out to coffee or lunch now and then 

Follow-up with your status on contacts provided

Send holiday/birthday greetings

Do's and Don'ts of Networking

Do's  Do not's
  • Clearly pronounce your name, smile and establish eye contact
  • Dress appropriately and get to events early
  • Practice your handshake  
  • When attending a function, make a goal to meet five new people in an hour
  • Enter and exit group conversations politely
  • Listen to others when they are talking and comment appropriately
  • Keep conversations short and focused
  • Ask for a business card and follow up
  • Take the initiative to approach others and introduce yourself
  • Jot notes down about the person on the back of business cards
  • Ask if your new contact knows anyone else that s/he might introduce you to
  • Take risks: the person next to you at a wedding or on a plane may be a fabulous contact 
  • Expect instant gratification
  • Start a conversation by talking about yourself
  • Sit with a friend at an event
  • Eat and talk
  • Play with/Answer your phone in the middle of a conversation