Networking

Building and maintaining quality professional relationships will help you discover and access opportunities.

Overview

Many people hate the word networking because they either think they aren’t extroverted enough to do it, or that it’s all about taking advantage of other people. In fact, networking is all about building lasting and mutually beneficial relationships that feel authentic to you.

Benefits of networking

Employers often prefer to hire people they know, or who have connections to people they know. While at first glance this might sound unfair, consider that you look to your close friends and allies for advice and introductions to others all the time. Employers look to their networks because the hiring process is complex and expensive and they want to make the best decision possible.

Building a professional network means you can get advice, referrals and inside information from experts in your field.

By meeting new people in the industry, at an event, or through your contacts, you can:

  • Gain first-hand, current information about the world of work to help develop your job-search strategy.
  • Connect to experts who have knowledge of trends and opportunities in your field.
  • Meet interesting, like-minded people who may end up being your future supervisors or colleagues.

Rethinking what a network is

Consider who is already in your network now.

Networking doesn’t just happen at planned professional events; it also occurs in your daily interactions with classmates, faculty, family, friends, neighbours, acquaintances, supervisors and co-workers. Talk to these people about your career-related goals and see if they can connect you to others. Always be prepared for unexpected networking opportunities.

The people you meet and the friends you make while you're here at UBC are a part of your network too. They may be fellow students and peers now, but in 5 or 10 years they will be working professionals. Investing in these relationships can pay off in the future.

Where to network

There are many ways to connect with employers and professionals in your areas of interest. Keep up to date on networking events taking place through the Centre for Student Involvement & Careers by checking the events calendar. Make sure to also check your department, Faculty, or student union to see what they are planning. 

Here are some other ways to meet people:

  • Career fairs
  • Become a member (or student member) of a relevant professional association and attend meetings or events
  • Off-campus networking events (Eventbrite and Meetup are two great tools to find off-campus events.)
  • Lectures
  • Informational interviews
  • Volunteering
  • Anywhere you can interact with new people

Expand your network with LinkedIn

Explore what other UBC graduates are doing and connect with them on LinkedIn. Find out what they studied and what they do now.

  1. Visit LinkedIn and create a free profile.
  2. Search “The University of British Columbia.”
  3. Select “Alumni.”
  4. Refine your search by clicking on the available categories or doing your own custom search.
  5. Send them a message if you’re interested in learning about their job, career story, academic background, and more.

You can also use this method to search for a particular company and then find UBC alumni working at that organization.

Learn more about LinkedIn and access a video that overviews how to make the most of this tool.

The 30-second introduction

The idea of an “elevator pitch” suggests that one day you may be confronted with the chance to leave an impression on someone that could help you advance your goals. To make this interaction successful, you’ll want to share as much information about yourself and your area of expertise or interest as possible in a way that excites them to ask follow up questions. Having a great elevator pitch requires having clarity about your skills, strengths, and what you care about.  

You might approach someone at a networking event and need to give an introduction. This can be intimidating, so consider planning how you will introduce yourself to ensure a great first impression. Keep it simple and start off by introducing your name and asking for theirs. Then offer some insight about yourself (such as what you are studying or why you decided to approach them) or follow up with a question about them. 

It is likely that they will then follow up with a question for you. Remember that networking is about having a conversation so be responsive to their questions and be curious about who they are. 

Deciding what to talk about requires you to consider the context. Who are you talking to? Do you know anything about them already? What are your intentions in talking to them? Keep this in mind and adapt your approach to each situation. 

Remember that the key to building mutually beneficial professional relationships is that both people enjoy and take something away from the relationship. For this reason it is most important that you try to connect authentically with the person you are talking to.

Networking is a two-way street and is as much about listening as it is talking.

Tips for success

  • Have a good introduction ready
    A good introduction will leave the person you are talking with excited to get to know you more. Include your name and something about yourself.

  • Do your research
    Always prepare for a networking meeting, even if it’s informal. Learn about the intended audience of an event, or the specific person you want to meet.

  • Show professionalism
    First impressions count, so make sure that you wear clothing that is appropriate for the field or the setting. You may also want to consider bringing business cards with you.

  • Engage in meaningful conversations
    Open-ended questions such as “what brings you to this event?” can start conversations and allow you to learn about others without being too personal. Demonstrate your interest by asking questions, being genuine and avoid dominating the conversation. 

  • Make good use of your time and theirs
    Don’t spend your entire evening at an event talking to one person. Give yourself and others the opportunity to network with different people. 

  • Keep an open mind
    Not everyone you meet will be able to offer you a job, but you never know who’s connected to whom. You can increase your chances of reaching your goals by talking to and making a good impression on as many people as you can.

  • Networking is a two-way street
    Successful networking builds mutually beneficial, positive relationships. Allow people to join your conversations at events, while reaching out, sharing information, and connecting to people in your network.  

  • Send a thank you email or message
    Thank everyone you meet or who gives you advice. Continue to follow-up with your contacts even after you’ve obtained a job to develop and maintain your network for the future. You can do so through email or LinkedIn.

Industry associations and networks

Every field has at least one professional association whose role is to regulate industries, provide professional development resources, and connect members.

Below is an introductory list to some professional associations, but you can also find more on these degree-specific pages:

Even conducting a keyword internet search focused on your industries of interest can be helpful. You may find professional associations focused on affinity groups, such as the Indigenous Professional Association of Canada.

Additional resources

  • Ten Thousand Coffees
    Create a free profile on The UBC Hub to join the mentoring platform, and receive monthly mentor matches specific to your area of interest.
  • 50 Ways to Get a Job
    Explore this guide to finding work that is personalized to you and where you’re at in your job search.
  • Glassdoor
    Search jobs and get the inside scoop on companies and salary ranges through anonymous reviews written by employees.
  • Start Proud LGBTQ+ networking and mentorship
    If you are a member of the LGBTQ+ community, register to connect with a LGBTQ+ professional each month.

Career events

Whether you're looking to improve your job applications or explore your career, UBC has events and workshops to support you.

Browse career events

If you have any questions