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More than just Hello: Networking 101 gives student skills to connect

By Katherine Han
On October 1, 2013

It seems so simple - five letters, one word. But with 80 percent of jobs being filled through having a connection, it's saying hello that could lead to your next internship, fellowship or even your next job.
On Monday night, 75 students gathered in the Alumni Center to attend "Networking 101" to learn exactly how to do so. An event sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, it invited UConn alumni to share their experience and aimed to educate students on how to further their networking skills to succeed in the outside world. Presenters Katie Farrington and Caitlin Trinh were enthusiastic in their delivery.
"These rules actually aren't that different from dating," Trinh said to a roomful of laughter. "Be yourself and make genuine connections."
Some tips that they offered were to be approachable and to make the conversation meaningful. When conversing, share professional pieces of information that you would want someone to know about you and always remember to be a good listener.
Alumni Brandon Hyde recommended avoiding yes or no questions, seeing as that is the quickest way to make a situation awkward. At the end of a conversation, exit gracefully and as a cheat, write down details of your exchange in a notebook or on a business card so that you'll remember them in the future.
For an introvert, this may all seem like a nightmare. But building a network does not always have to include face-to-face contact. Following up is one of the most important parts of networking, which includes handwriting notecards, sending emails - anything that lets someone know that you're keeping them in your thoughts. Hyde suggested following up with business contacts at least once a year, while alumna Niamh Cunningham recommended including something substantive in these interactions, like an article you think they would enjoy.
For those who are interested in learning more about surviving in the real world, multiple events on professional development will be held throughout the semester, and attending these even gives you an opportunity to earn a certificate for professional development - a great resume padder for those who are thinking ahead. The Center for Career development is also a great source of information for the potential job applicant, with walk-in hours, an informational website and free corrections to your resume.
Networking has a bad reputation as being nothing but a crowd of businessmen shaking hands while exchanging cards. But the truth is that it's more than that - it's building a network of people that you care about and that care about you, so that you can all help each other advance your professional career.
And to think, it could all begin with a simple hello.

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