Cornell Bowers College of Computing and Information Science


Networking Information and Resources

Networking: Building Professional Relationships

  • The goal of networking is to build long lasting professional relationships.
  • Networking is more than getting business cards and asking for a referral.
  • You should not ask for a referral from someone you have not previously built a relationship.
    • While some companies do have an internal referral program, where employees can recommend or pass along a resume of someone they know, generally an employee will not risk this reputation by recommending someone  he/she does not know.  

Helpful links

  • Video: Tips When Starting To Network from MPS Statistics student Xu Shen
  • Networking for Introverts - Harvard Business Review
  • How Introverts can Network without Losing their Minds - Fast Company
  • Networking Basics from Vault
  • 10 Tips for Becoming a Connector (Not Just a Networker) - Vault Article
  • Meetups - Good for networking and meeting others with similar interests. Create groups based on your interests, career, or whatever matters to you. Good for networking and meeting others with similar interests.  


    Use keyword searches to find established groups or start a new group based on your interests.

    Try searching for: "Networking", "Career Search", or "Professional Networking Groups" in meetups in the geographic area where you plan to move to for work.

    Many surprising resources and tips are shared when collaborating with others who are also searching for work in the area. 

    Are you moving soon to a city where you do not know many people?  Are you moving soon to a location and do not yet have a job and are looking to network? Meetups is one way to begin networking and to meet new people in your new place.

Networking Q+A

I think small talk is such a turn off and might be perceived as fake. Should I do it anyway?

Small talk breaks the ice. While some cringe at the thought of engaging in small talk it is effective.  Approaches you can take are: 1. Figure out what you could ask someone that you would be genuinely be interested in. Listen to the individual. Pick up clues of something where you have a mutual interest. Look around their office is there a photo or piece of art or something you are also interested in. 2. Ask questions that get people to talk about themselves. People like to talk about themselves. 3. Try to be natural and honest. 4. Find out what they might need. What skill do you have that might help them.

Why Should I Network?  

You can gather sound career advice by networking to help you explore and clarify your career path. You can learn more about a company, an industry, or trends, inside facts, the organizational culture, and what employers are looking for in successful job seekers. 

You may receive referrals to other professionals and resources. It is appropriate to ask if your contact knows someone who might be able to answer your questions or someone else who might help you gain additional insight.

Networking is an oppotunity for others to learn from  you.

Sometimes you can uncover unpublished job openings or potential future opportunities. 

I don't want to bother people and I am afraid they will be annoyed if I ask for help.

The key to contacting people is in the approach.  Act professional, be conscious of their time, be careful not to monopolize but mostly listen by asking open-ended questions about them, their likes, their career, and possibly their needs.  Often there may be way to might be able to help them with their needs. It is important to not ask for favors, do not assume anything and do not ask for a job or begin a conversation asking about job opportunities.

What are the benefits of someone talking to me?

People like to talk about themselves and their work. They might have an open position they need to fill. Alumni enjoy staying connected to Cornell and their program. They gain satisfaction from helping and giving advice. They may want to expand their network too. You are valuable to them and their network (they may need something that you mgiht be able to thelp them with).

How do I develop a Network?

Start with those you know such as your family and friends, professors, teachers, classmates, alumni, undergrad alumni, join clubs, and activities. Reach out to companies, attend info sessions, previous employers, career fairs, do information interviews, social media such as LinkedIn or Meetups, and through professional associations and organizations. Then begin strategizing how to connect withthose you don't know yet. 

I am an Introvert and therefore do not network well. What tips can you provide?

An introvert gets their energy from time spent alone or with few people. An extrovert gets their energy from being around many people. Most people are a combination of both and some people are sometimes more introvert and sometimes more extrovert. You do not need to be an extrovert to be good at networking. You do need to learn how to create effective, meaningful relationships. If you know you are an introvert or are shy there is lots of advice out there (the links above on networking for introverts has some wonderful tips). Some extroverts are shy but cover it well. If you are shy look at some of the tips on interview confidence building as these may be helpful to you as well. Know that it does get easier with practice and experience. You do not have to have a huge network to do it well. You do not need to attend a speed networking event to network. Networking is about creating meaningful relationships and you may be able to do this one at a time while doing things you enjoy. Focus on what you are good at in setting you are comfortable in. 

Can you provide specific networking strategy tips? How do I initiate the conversation?

Start with "Hello" and then some: smile, keep it a short conversation. Flattering words do not hurt. Find commonality and seek mutual benefits by asking questions. Remember the goal is to cultivate a sincere connection which may lead to a meaningful relationship which may lead to mutual benefits. Focus on the person you are with and stay in touch. 

What questions can I ask with new acquaintances?

First, break the ice by extending a genuine compliment or by asking genuine open-ended questions. If you know, the person you are meeting is a classmate or alumnus, you may want to ask what made them decide to major in x. If you know, the person works in an area you are interested in, you may want to ask what made them decide to join y company. If you know, where the person works, you may want to ask them: how they got their job, or if they have any advice for courses you should take to better position you for a role in their company.  You could ask them if they networked formally and how they did it. You could ask them: what they like about what they do. If you can think of a specific question which won't take much of their time this might be helpful to them. Provide them with enough background about yourself so they can best answer your question(s). Check the links above for additional advice and questions. 

What is the difference between networking and information interviewing?

Networking is the overall process of meeting people, building relationships, and asking questions to build rapport.

Informational interviewing is a piece of the networking process. It is a planned and prepared approach to gain career or job fit information.  See the section on informational interviewing for additional actions you can take and questions you can ask.