Have you ever been to a networking event and not known how to get the conversation started? Or have you ever been asked “Tell me about yourself?” and not known how to respond? Here are some ways to prepare before an event so that you can network with confidence. 

Develop Your Introduction

Create a narrative that highlights your relevant academic and professional experiences.  To develop an engaging introduction, think about your responses to the questions below:

  • I am interested in the following industries/internships/jobs…
  • I am interested in these industries/internships/jobs because…
  • I have related work experience, academic experience, or extracurricular experience from…
  • Some of my skills or strengths for these industries/internships/jobs…

Go back and underline a few of the most interesting parts of your responses from prompts 1 through 4. Use these underlined responses to craft a strong introduction.

Know how to Start A Conversation

Are you attending an event with 10 people or 100 people? No matter the setting, express interest in the person’s work and ask insightful questions.

Conversations tend to follow this format:

  • Start with “Hi, I’m [Insert your name]” then
  • Share 1 or 2 comments about your interests and academic/extracurricular/work experiences. Try to choose those which are most relevant to the position or company/organization
  • End by expressing your interest in the company/organziation’s work (projects, internships, products, news items) and/or asking a question
  • It’s nice to meet you! It sounds like you have a very interesting background, can you tell me more about the activities you are involved in at Columbia? — Employer

General Networking tips

  • Prepare and practice to develop your networking skills
  • Know yourself. If walking into a room of 100 people is overwhelming, begin with speaking to 1 or 2 people
  • Conduct research and use the information you gather to ask informative questions. Learn about the industry, what challenges the companies face, latest trends, etc. 
  • Both verbal and non-verbal communication is important. Practice your strong handshake, consistent eye contact, smiling and good posture
  • Be confident, express genuine curiosity, and stay present and connected
  • Ask for a business card and send a follow-up thank you note within 24-48 hours