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Networking allows you to connect and develop personal relationships with professionals in an industry or position in which you are interested. Networking can help you find mentors, learn how to enter an industry, and discover potential jobs. Your network can include family members, friends, faculty or university staff, co-workers or supervisors, professional association or student organization members, or social media contacts. While networking can seem intimidating, remember that many people like to talk about their career paths and are more than willing to help others.
Schedule an appointment with the TCE Career Education team to help identify potential contacts for networking and strategies on how to communicate, or to practice your networking skills or elevator pitch.
As virtual networking becomes more common, it’s important to proactively promote yourself online to enhance your job search.
Connect to Longhorns
Leverage the power of the UT network by connecting to employers, alumni, friends of UT, and other professionals to explore career paths, make professional contacts, and tap into the hidden job market.
UT students can join HookedIn, the official UT Austin social networking platform designed to connect students, alumni, employers, and friends of UT for career connections and mentorship.
Have a quick question or need advice on a particular topic?
Use the Directory search filters to find the best person to help you.
- Use the ‘Ask or Advise a Longhorn’ filter in the right-hand navigation, select the ‘offering help’ drop down and filter by the predefined questions to find users that can offer quick advice. View their profile and click the ‘Request Help’.
- Use the right-hand filters to search by location, name, affinity groups, education or job/industry filters to narrow your results.
- Once you locate a user, view their profile and click the ‘Message’ button to send a brief message.
Want to find an informal mentor or focused career advice?
Find the perfect match by using the ‘HookedIn Mentoring’ feature.
- Review your profile and navigate to the select the ‘Seek Mentor’ options. Select ‘participate in mentor program’. Save your profile.
- Click on the ‘HookedIn Mentoring’ link in the left-hand navigation to view suggested mentors.
- Narrow your search and find users who graduated from your school or college, have the same affinity interest, or have relevant work or industry experience. You can also search by using the location filter to a specific geographic area.
- Once you find a potential match, click the ‘Connect’ button to review the user’s profile and determine if they are a good match. If so, click the ‘Request Mentoring’ button.
- Select one of the mentor options in the dropdown and send them a brief, professional message.
You can find more than 426,000 UT alumni on LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional networking site. Take our online LinkedIn Masterclass to learn how to create an effective profile and to share your professional goals.
Crafting an Elevator Pitch
An easy way to introduce yourself and state your purpose for contacting someone is to craft an elevator pitch. This includes a brief introduction to your academic and professional background, skills, and career goals tailored to the individual to whom you are speaking. Successful elevator pitches are specific and focus on what makes you unique.
“Hello, I’m _____. I’m a senior, Biology BSA major, with a Bridging Disciplines Certificate in Human Rights and Social Justice at the University of Texas at Austin. I have past experience working with the City of Austin and various law firms on disability advocacy and policy. I’m interested in working in nonprofits to help increase access for people with disabilities. I noticed that you specialize in working with this population, can you tell me more about you and your career path?”
“Hello, I’m ____. I’m a first-year, Rhetoric and Writing major at the University of Texas at Austin. I’m interested in exploring brand development and using my writing skills to expand social media presence for organizations. I’m reaching out to learn more about social media professions and about your career journey towards your current marketing role.”
Once you’ve scheduled a time to meet with someone, prepare questions in advance, such as:
- “Can you tell me about your career path and how you joined this organization in your current role?”
- “What do you enjoy/not enjoy about your job?”
- “What do you wish you had known before getting into this field?”
- “What is a typical day like in your position?”
- “What skills, education, or experiences are employers in this field looking for?”
- “How do you see this job changing in the next 5-10 years?”
- “If you could go back and do anything differently on this career path, what would you do?”
- “What advice do you have for a student interested in this field?”
After you meet with or have a networking conversation with someone, be sure to thank them for their time. It’s appropriate to send an email or a handwritten note (and if you have good handwriting, the latter can make a lasting impression). In your follow-up note, be as specific as possible; for example, mentioning particularly helpful advice from your contact or new decisions you’ve made as a result of the meeting.
- Have questions prepared, but leave room for natural conversation.
- Take notes and actively listen.
- Thank them for their time and insight through email or LinkedIn.
- Follow up to continue the conversation.