How to Build a New Career Through Networking

July 10, 2014
by Aimee Lim

You’ve heard it before. To become successful in the business world, you need to have great networking skills. I personally believe this is a MUST, especially if you are planning on changing industries after you graduate.  Many job offers or business deals are given to people employers trust. How do you build this trust?  Get to know other professionals in your industry and you will build a solid reputation. You may not always be the center of attention at a party, but you can still build relationships through one on one interactions. Being a Rady student is a great introduction, since people are less inclined to think you are trying to sell them something.  Here are some tips that have been proven to work!

Get to know your cohort. This is probably the easiest one to do. Plan a happy hour or go for drinks after class. Being a member of the flex evening cohort, we did not get to spend much time together during school hours, but we definitely made an effort to plan one big night out at the end of every quarter.

Proven example:

I can think of a particular classmate that works at a tax software company, who recommended another classmate for a project manager position at his company. It was a great career move for her, which only happened because they became great friends throughout the first year of school.

Our cohort is extremely close and I have to say we LOVE each other. There are several groups of friends that hang out regularly and even travel together.

Contact your alumni. The great thing about Rady is that most of the alumni are working in great companies, right here in San Diego.  You can find them through LinkedIn or through Rady careers.

Proven example:

Ask a professor to introduce you through email to a specific person, this makes it a lot harder for them to turn you down for a meeting. I tried this one myself, and was able to meet two alumni that are currently working high level positions at a genomics company. They were very happy to meet with me and hear about the new developments at Rady.

However, not all graduates are going to want to meet you, so be prepared. If your requests are ignored, move on to someone else that is willing to meet. Do not badger them since they are busy people!

Get to know people within your network. This is easy if you are already working at a company. Let your coworkers know your plans for the future. Try to introduce yourself during a company party or in the common area so they know you by name. Follow up with an email afterwards.

Proven example:

I was able to meet with high level executives with my company just by sending them the following email: “Hi ____, I would like to meet with you and am very interested in hearing about what you do at our company. I am currently pursuing my MBA and I want to learn about potential careers available to me in the future. Do you have time for lunch or coffee?”

Do not be afraid to ask for their time; chances are they will feel flattered. If you are approaching someone at a different company that you do not know personally, try to find a common link (easily found through LinkedIn) to make an introduction for you. I have done this as well, and found most people are perfectly happy to meet or chat on the phone.

Make new contacts.  You will meet many business professionals during your time at Rady. There are group projects, guest speakers, and independent studies that will offer you a chance to connect with these folks.

Proven example:

I know of a classmate that approached the CEO of a consulting company after a riveting professional seminar. He expressed his interest in the company, went through several interviews, and got hired!

I personally used number 2 and 3 to obtain a business position in my current company. It can be difficult for a scientist to switch job functions, but I kept in contact with the director of business development, who is also a Rady graduate. When a position opened up, I contacted him immediately and I was offered the job!

 In today’s competitive world, it is simply not enough to be among the hundreds of candidates applying for a position online.  Following these tips will greatly increase your chances of landing your dream career. It worked for us!

Aimee Lim is a Flex Evening 2014 student at Rady School of Management. She has combined her science and business skills to bridge the gap in the biotech industry. She also enjoys going to happy hour with friends and spending time outdoors.