Networking

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 and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships that feel authentic to you. These relationships can often be powerful assets for career decision-making and the job search process.

Benefits of networking

Employers often prefer to hire people they know, or who have connections to people they know. While this might sound unfair at first, consider how you also consult your trusted friends, family, and other relations for advice and introductions to others. Employers similarly consult their networks to ensure they meet the best candidates possible.

Investing in your professional network means you can get advice, referrals and inside information from experts in your field. It also means there will be more people in the world that know who you are, what you are capable of, and the kinds of opportunities that interest you.

By taking the time to meet new people in your industries of interest, 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

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 ask for their help. You never know who or what they might be able to introduce to you.

The people you meet and the friends you make while studying 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, not to mention making your time on campus more memorable.

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 and Careers by checking the events calendar. Make sure to also check your department, Faculty, or student union to learn about what they are planning.

Below are some other ways you might meet people:

  • Career fairs
  • Attend meetings or events organized by professional associations in your fields of interest. Sometimes this requires becoming a member (or student member) but not always. Many events are free.
  • Attend off-campus networking events (both the Eventbrite site and Meetup site are 2 great tools to find off-campus events that could connect you to people working in your fields of interest).
  • At your UBC lectures or public lectures about topics related to your interests
  • Through informational interviews
  • By volunteering for an organization that shares your interests or values. The Go Volunteer site is a great resource to find opportunities.
  • Anywhere else you can interact with new people

Expand your network with LinkedIn

Learn about what other UBC alumni are doing after their graduation. Find out what they studied and what they do now by following the steps below and then reach out to a few for informational interviews.

  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. If you find someone whose interests or career path intrigue or inspire you, ask to connect. Send alumni a personalized message  letting them know you would like to learn more about their job, career story, academic background, etc. Make sure to tell them what caught your attention and why.

You can also use this method to search for a particular company and then find UBC alumni working at that organization. This is an especially valuable approach for anyone who wants to learn about policies and practices related to equity, diversity, and inclusion. You can ask someone working at that organization how this works in practice.

You can also learn more about LinkedIn and how to make the most of this tool.

The 30-second introduction

You may have heard the term “elevator pitch” before. The concept refers to a short, but powerful opportunity to help others get to know you through a strong first impression. To make a short interaction successful, concisely share the most important information about yourself and your area of expertise or interest as possible. Your goal should be to inspure the other person to ask follow up questions. Having a great elevator pitch requires clarity about your skills, strengths, and what you are trying to achieve.

Where you will use your elevator pitch

The key to an elevator pitch is that you have it ready at any time for unexpected opportunities to connect with people that can help you advance your goals. You might be meeting new people at an industry event, in a coffee shop, or at your part-time, volunteer, or co-op job. The opportunities are endless.

Deciding how to approach the pitch and what to talk about requires you to think about 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. For example, when you are approaching someone at a networking event, ask them about themselves first. If you only have a few seconds in the elevator with your CEO you’ll want to cut to the chase by letting them know you’ve been wanting to share something with them.

Reading your pitch

Sharing your pitch can be intimidating, so consider planning it out now and revisiting it as your goals and interests change or develop. Below are some tips:

  • Keep it simple.
  • Don’t forget to share your name and ask for theirs (if you don’t already know who they are).
  • Approach the pitch with openness and genuine interest in sharing your vision.
  • Remember that networking is about creating mutually beneficial interactions so be responsive to their questions and be curious about who they are. Don't just talk, listen too.

Tips for networking success

  • Have a good introduction ready
    A good introduction will leave the person you are talking with excited to get to know you more.

  • 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 are meeting.

  • Show professionalism
    First impressions count, so make sure that you wear clothing that is appropriate for the field or the setting.

  • 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 the people someone might be connected to. 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 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 or other industry-specific communication tools, including social media.

Industry associations and networks

Every field has at least 1 professional association whose role is to regulate industries, provide professional development resources, and connect members.

Below is an introductory list to some professional associations by field, 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
    Use this guide to find 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.
  • LinkedIn Learning
    Develop employable skills with your full access to this online resource that offers courses focused on technical skills and professional development.

Career events

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

If you have any questions