Building your community and social capital, or “networking”, isn’t as scary as it sounds.

It means building meaningful relationships–just like you have your entire life, but doing so in a way that’s mutually beneficial.

Types of Networking

Networking can be conducted in either a spontaneous or planned manner. Your strategy will depend on the nature of your relationships, and your goals for the networking communications. 

Spontaneous Career Networking

Sometimes a networking moment can spring up in the moment, like at a conference or maybe in a coffee shop. Often, this looks like meeting someone who happens to work in your field of interest and you're introduced to opportunities as a result of that connection. 

Examples of spontaneous networking

  • Attending information booths: As Lisa was getting lunch, she saw a Peace Corps representative at an information table in Warch. Lisa decided to stop, and learn about the mission of the Peace Corps, the candidate recruitment process, and was provided with contact information of a past volunteer who could provide further insights.  

  • Connecting with alumni at a Lawrence event: Kelsi meets a Lawrentian during Family Weekend and learns about his position at a well-known advertising firm in Chicago. As a result of talking with him and following up to thank him for his time, Julie is given a contact to follow-up with regarding their summer internship program. 


Planned Career Networking

Just like it sounds, planned career networking involves actively sharing your goals with others or attending career related events and activities. 

Examples of planned networking

  • Speak with faculty: Ben talks with a professor about his interests in renewable energy. Neil’s professor encourages him to speak with an employer from the renewable energy sector that recently presented at a conference he attended to learn more about the field. 

  • Attend a career fair: Recently at a college career fair, Emily met with a Human Resources representative from a national company regarding internship opportunities in California. Although the representative was hiring for the Northeast region, Emily e-mailed the recruiter after the fair and was able to obtain a company contact on the west coast.  

  • Conduct informational interviews: David spent winter break learning about the Arts Administration career path by conducting informational interviews with Lawrence alumni and contacts found through his faculty. David’s informational interviews allowed him to hear of un-posted job opportunities, which led to interviews, and ultimately a job offer. 

Identifying and Establishing Your Network

The first step to building your professional life is to identify and establish your network.

  • Identify people you already know including family, friends, community members, professors, coaches, former employers, etc. Even if they are not in the field(s) of interest to you, they can often lead you to people who are. 

  • Join clubs and professional organizations that relate to your areas of interest. These can lead to valuable connections to professionals within career fields of interest.  

  • Connect with alumni who are employed in career fields of interest through faculty, administrators, and LUAA on LinkedIn

Prepare a Self-Introduction (aka “Elevator Pitch") for in-person events  

Alumni events, guest lectures, career fairs, conferences, athletic events, college reunions, and neighborhood gatherings are all great venues to engage in networking.

Prepare and practice a concise introduction so that you’re always ready to network effectively. Include your full name, class year, major, career field of interest, and ask your contact if they would mind if you asked them a couple of questions about their career field. For example:

Hi, I’m Robert Plant (shake hands). It’s nice to meet you. I am a first year student at Lawrence majoring in psychology. I’m interested in learning more about the publishing field and heard that you work at XYZ Publishing. Would you mind if I ask you a couple of questions about your experiences working in publishing? 

Informational Interviews

Informational interviews are networking meetings where you ask professionals within career fields of interest questions regarding their work, industry, career path, educational background, and advice on the job search. Informational interviews are conducted over the phone or in-person, and are a great tool for building your network and acquiring insider knowledge.  

Step 1: Arranging and Preparing for an Informational Interview  

  • Ensure your resume is up to date, has been tailored to the specific position you are applying to, and has been reviewed by a career center advisor. 

  • Initiate contact by sending a networking e-mail/message stating your interest in speaking with your contacts for 15–20 minutes about their career related experiences.  

  • Arrange a mutually convenient time to talk/meet. Let them know you appreciate their time and are willing to work around their schedule.  

  • Research your contact’s career field and employer using the company’s website, Glassdoor, and recommendations from your Career Advisor.  

  • Develop several questions to ask during your informational interview 

  • After a few informational interviews you should replace your standard questions with more insightful ones.  

Step 2: Conducting the Informational Interview 

  • Call your contacts from a quiet place where you know you won’t be interrupted and you have good cell reception. 

  • If meeting in person, plan to dress professionally and arrive 10–15 minutes early at the prearranged location.  

  • Reintroduce yourself and explain why you reached out to them.  

  • Begin by asking the questions you prepared. However, be flexible and prepared in case the conversation takes a different path.  

  • Keep track of time, let your contact know when 15–20 minutes is up and follow the contact’s lead on ending or continuing the conversation.  

  • Be sincere, show interest, and thank your contacts for volunteering their time.  

  • Ask contacts if they would provide you with other professionals that can offer additional career information.  

  • If the connection is genuine, ask if you can stay in touch including possibly connecting on LinkedIn.Important: Not every informational interview will go as planned. It is at this point when most people stop. Instead, persevere and acquire the knowledge that will allow you to compete more effectively.  

Step 3: Follow-up 

  • Send your contact a thank you e-mail or letter immediately following your conversation. 

  • Track each networking conversation and note: the date, key information/insights, and next steps established to help facilitate future conversations with this contact.  

  • If your contact agrees to keep in touch, mention in your e-mail or letter that you’ll be doing so. Multiple communications (e.g., following up every 4–8 weeks) increase the likelihood that your contact will think of you if/when an opportunity arises.  

  • If the individuals you spoke with provided additional contacts, update them as to whom you’ve followed up with. 

Informational Interview E-Mail Correspondence Examples

Requesting an Informational Interview via E-Mail 

Subject: Lawrence University Student Seeking Alumni Advice 

Dear Carl,  

I’m a Physics major in my junior year at Lawrence University, and have an interest in renewable energy. Professor Smith provided me with your contact information and suggested I send you an e-mail because you are currently working in the renewable energy sector and recently presented at a conference he attended. I would like to learn more about your experience in the industry and appreciate any advice you’d be willing to share to further my knowledge in this field.  

Would you be willing to speak with me for 15 - 20 minutes at a time that’s convenient for you? I have attached my resume to give you a better sense of who I am. Thank you in advance for your time.  

I look forward to hearing from you. 


Neil Butler 

Thank You E-Mail (To Who You Spoke With)  

Subject: Thank You 

Dear Carl,  

Thank you for taking the time to speak with me earlier today regarding your experiences in renewable energy. Your insights in preparing for a career in this sector were extremely helpful.  

As we discussed, I will reach out to you on LinkedIn to stay connected. 


Neil Butler 

Thank You E-Mail (To Who Provided You With the Connection) 

Subject: Thank You 

Dear Professor Smith, I wanted to write to you to say how much I appreciate you providing me with the contact information for Carl Brown. We had a wonderful discussion about the renewable energy field and his experiences at his current company. We are planning to connect on LinkedIn to stay in touch.  

Again, thank you so much for this connection.  


Neil Butler 

Requesting an Informational Interview via email  

Subject: Lawrence University Student Seeking Alumni Advice 

Dear Candice,  

I’m a junior, English major at Lawrence University, and have interest in pursuing a career in the field of television and film production. I found your contact and employer information through the Lawrence University alumni directory. I was excited to see your experience with MTV. I am eager to learn more about your experiences in the industry and any advice you’d be willing to share with regards to succeeding in the field.  

Would you be willing to speak with me for 15 - 20 minutes about your experience in media production at a time that’s convenient for you? I can be reached at Thank you for your time. 


Jane Doe  

Follow-Up Message (if you have not received a response after several business days) 

Subject: Following Up 

Dear Candice, I am following up regarding my interest in talking with you about your experience in media production. I recognize your time is valuable and this is a busy time of year. If you could spare 15 – 20 minutes of your time to speak, I remain interested in learning more about television and film production.  

Thank you for time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you. 


Jane Doe 


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