How to Make the Most of Networking Opportunities (in Five Steps)

Students navigate networking opportunities at a Babson College career fair in 2022.

Considering the ambitious and entrepreneurial nature of Babson’s students and alumni, it’s no surprise they want to access the expansive networking universe on campus and beyond. Students, recognizing the immense value in connecting with potential employers, are eager to seize networking opportunities. But, there’s an art to networking successfully. 

So, how do you network like a pro? Jessica Chance, director of Babson’s Graduate Center for Career Development (CCD), shared some valuable insights on optimizing networking experiences to build lasting connections that can pave the way for career success. Here are five steps to power your networking opportunities:

1. Fine-Tune Your Story  

Before diving into networking, Chance emphasizes the importance of recalibrating the job seeker’s personal stories. She encourages them to reflect on their milestones and achievements.  

“Students might sell themselves short if they overlook significant moments when networking. Crafting a clear, concise narrative ensures they stand out and leave a lasting impression,” Chance said. 

2. Apply Informed, Tailored Advice  

Career advisors at Babson take pride in meeting students where they are and fostering a supportive environment where no question is deemed insignificant. According to Chance, this approach helps students gain clarity for career planning.  

“While it’s good to get different pieces of advice and feedback from different people, sometimes there’s a lot of noise,” Chance said. “Our job is to help students communicate their value in a concise way and remind them of the importance of researching industries and people. They can then make more informed decisions that meet career goals and will maximize their time at Babson.” 

With a solid career path in mind, students can better select the right people to network with, Chance adds. 

3. Be Intentional About Your Network 

To make impactful connections, students are advised to brainstorm and create a list of professionals they genuinely want to connect with in their industry.

“Choosing wisely and narrowing down the list is essential. You start broad, but then you narrow it down based on the types of roles and companies that are of interest,” says Chance, underscoring the importance of specificity when students introduce themselves to alumni and industry professionals.   

4. How Do You Nail a Networking Meeting? 

Networking, according to Chance, is not a mere transaction. Students often face the challenge of treating it as a numbers game, focusing on quantity rather than quality. “It’s crucial to make genuine connections and initiate conversations based on topics like skill-building, company culture, and changing workplaces post-pandemic in the age of AI. Networking should go beyond accumulating contacts; it’s about reaching out for specific, timely advice and ensuring each connection is meaningful,” Chance emphasizes. 

“Make sure you’re making the right connection, and that the person doesn’t feel like just a number,” Chance said. 

5. Stay Curious  

Chance suggests that students embrace curiosity during networking interactions. “People enjoy talking about their career journey and experiences. Find a piece of their story that resonates with you and dive deeper. Ask a question or two that shows your genuine enthusiasm. It’s not just transactional; both parties should derive value from the interaction,” she concludes. 

As Babson students navigate the world of networking, Chance’s guidance provides a road map for building authentic connections that extend beyond Babson, setting the stage for future success in their chosen careers. 

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