Ask Hahney: Networking

Courtesy of CDI Yorkshire

Courtesy of CDI Yorkshire

Q: Do you have any advice for networking with internship coworkers and professors in a meaningful way? Thanks! — Shy and struggling

“Trojan family, trojan family, trojan family!!” If you didn’t hear this phrase more than 34647132 times during orientation, perhaps you were at a different school’s. USC has one of the strongest alumni networks I’ve ever witnessed and networking is a quintessential component.

Networking is the most useful skill to take away from your college career. You will meet people here at USC from all walks of life and they will be able to guide you in so many different ways. Networking isn’t solely about networking with established professionals. Networking amongst your cohort of peers is just as important. Some will become actors, others will become CEOs, etc.

The best advice I can give? Be open, be honest, and put in the effort. Build relationships that matter.

If you find a professor’s work to be interesting and you want to keep that relationship– talk to them about it! It won’t hurt if you say something like, “I really enjoy your work in XYZ field.” The art of good networking is making it seem natural. Get to know your professor’s hobbies, listen to your peers’ complaints, etc. When people find that you’re a good listener, they’ll naturally gravitate towards you. Then, when you want assistance with your career development– they’ll want to help!

Also, this is a personal pet peeve but asking cliche questions like “Do you like the traveling involved with consulting,” will only render generic answers. Ask the bold questions. Ask questions that you find attributable to your life and the person you wish to network with. They’ll appreciate it!

Lastly, remember the rule of threes. Always follow up within three days of talking to someone (preferably in the first 24 hours). If you want to keep in touch, make sure you check in every three months (if they’re not someone you see regularly). Keep that in mind as you foster the relationships you want to grow. Threes are awesome!