Early Career Professionals How To Toolkit

How to Build your Network

What is networking?

Networking is the process of making connections and building relationships with other professionals in your field. It involves getting to know others, learning about their work, and sharing about yours. When people network they often exchange contact information. This helps people grow their professional networks, which can be a gateway to job opportunities and much more. Building relationships with peers in your field can expose you to new knowledge, resources, and connections that support your professional advancement.

How to build your network

There is no one right way to go about networking. Some people are more extroverted and quickly make connections. Others may be more introverted or shy and take more time developing connections. Your approach will depend on you.

Sometimes, people network with a specific goal in mind–to get a job or promote their research or project. Other times, people do not have a specific goal; rather, they aspire to build their network, knowing it may yield career benefits in the future. Building your professional network can help you achieve your career and professional goals.

Professional networks are comprised of both closer ties–like your coworkers or classmates–and weaker ties–like colleagues you meet at a professional meeting or conference. When we talk about networking, we often mean intentionally growing our network of weaker ties. At a basic level, this entails meeting new people and exchanging contact information or connecting on LinkedIn. 

But networking also means maintaining established relationships. This calls for occasionally checking in with colleagues to find out how they are doing and what they are working on, and to share about your recent work too. Building your network requires growing new connections and maintaining existing ones.

Types of Networking Events

Professional Meetings and Conferences

Professional meetings and conferences are a great way to build and maintain your network while expanding your expertise and skill set. They generally bring together scholars and/or professionals for the purpose of sharing advancements in the field and exchanging ideas. Such events offer myriad opportunities to connect with fellow attendees, from formal networking sessions to informal conversations while waiting in line for coffee.

Career Fairs

Career fairs are a great way to learn about career opportunities and connect with potential employers. Universities and colleges, job placement centers, professional and industry associations, and other entities occasionally offer career fairs that bring together multiple employers for purposes of employee recruitment. The fair-like setting offers attendees a forum to connect directly with recruiters and learn about job openings. Job fairs can help attendees make valuable contacts and advance their job search.

Tips for Career Fair Success

This resource offers a comprehensive breakdown of steps to prepare for and maximize opportunities at career fairs, providing actionable suggestions to help atte...

Informational Interviews 

Informational interviews are a valuable tool to learn more about a specific field, industry, or institution, and establish meaningful connections. At a basic level, informational interviews are meetings or conversations in which individuals seeking information engage with a knowledgeable professional with experience. Unlike traditional job interviews, the goal of informational interviews is to gather insights, advice, and information–not secure a job offer. Informational interviews offer a low-stakes way to deepen one’s understanding of a field, a company’s culture, or a type of job in order to make informed career moves.

Informational Interviewing

This resource discusses the importance of informational interviewing and provides helpful tips and suggestions on making the most out of an informational interv...

Virtual Events

Virtual events, such as virtual career fairs and networking events, offer access to diverse opportunities and the ability to make connections with people anywhere! Social platforms like LinkedIn and Handshake regularly offer virtual resources and events that can help individuals expand their professional networks and stay connected with trends and opportunities in their field.

Virtual Fair Digital Checklist

This resource offers a comprehensive checklist for preparing for virtual career fairs, covering steps to ensure a successful virtual networking experience.

What is a Virtual Career Fair?

This resource provides a comprehensive guide to navigating virtual career fairs, covering topics such as what to expect, how to prepare, and strategies for succ...

Virtual Career Fairs Tips

This resource provides insights and guidance for navigating virtual career fairs, highlighting their unique advantages, differences from physical fairs, and off...

Get Started Guide

Before an event: Successful networking starts with being prepared. This means preparing your materials–by updating your resume, LinkedIn profile, and business cards–and preparing yourself–by establishing some talking points and setting goals for your networking conversations. Researching the event, learning about the people with whom you may connect, and outlining some questions to ask, can help you be successful at the networking event.
During an event: Meeting new people, especially in professional settings, can be intimidating. It is important to remember that we are all human, and even the most experienced professionals can get nervous. If you are feeling stuck, ask people about themselves and their work, or what brought them to the event. Be sure to give out your business cards during networking conversations and ask others for theirs. Jotting down notes about your new contacts can help you remember a conversation better.
After an event: Be sure to follow up with the people you exchanged information with as soon as possible after an event. Sending an email or connecting on LinkedIn is a great start with a new professional acquaintance.

  • Refresh your LinkedIn with new information and photos
  • Update your resume with new information
  • Get business cards to hand out to new acquaintances
  • Develop a pitch, and practice introducing yourself
  • Research your event and the people you may meet

  • Jot down notes to help you remember conversations
  • Add LinkedIn connections in real-time
  • Send an email or text in real-time
  • Identify a professional for a potential informational interview

  • Follow up with people you met
  • Request an information interview
  • Stay in touch

Professional Networking in Public Health

This website suggests the importance of professional networking, particularly in public health. It discusses various types of networks, in-person and online net...

Networking and Social Media

This webpage discusses common networking challenges and ways to improve your networking strategies. It emphasizes the importance of using social media.

The latest public health &
equity content

Straight to your inbox

Skip to content