Networking Tips

As a general rule, when it comes to networking, activity is usually better than inactivity. In essence, you can’t wait around for others to approach you. You need to make an effort to initiate contact. Based on the experience of other students who’ve studied abroad, here a few ‘networking abroad’ tips:

1. Set your networking goal

Is your primary goal to:

  • meet new people?
  • develop outside interests?
  • adapt to a new geographic location?
  • develop ‘hands-on’ opportunities to build your academic or career portfolio?

Whatever your reasons, when you know what you want to achieve through networking, it’s easier to make a start.

Group indoor rock climbing

I felt quite isolated initially but managed to integrate into the local community through outside interests like rock climbing.

Brooke, Returned Student.

2. Start where you are

Explore the people and organisations in close proximity, particularly in the short term. Connect with people, clubs and organisations on your new campus or in your local community as a starting point.

You could check out social media like Face-book, Meet-ups or Yelp for local groups of interest. From a professional perspective, if you don’t have a Linked In profile, it might be useful to establish one.

I have had an academic from another University of California campus contact me through Linked In. They have offered for me to do a PHD at their university.

Nina, Returned Student.

The Wells Fargo Hall at University of California San Diego campus.

3. Get ready

Networking is a two way street. You need to think what can you give as well as what you hope to get from the relationship. When entering a new group setting, whether personal or professional, it’s useful to have an ‘elevator speech’ about yourself.

Practicing an elevator speech
The ‘elevator speech’ is a quick presentation of yourself that only lasts the time it takes to travel in the elevator -- about one paragraph, or a minute.

Having your elevator speech ready might be particularly useful if you are communicating in your second or other language.

The six-step format is borrowed from a widely circulated exercise in personal branding, but it is great when you’re entering a new networking situation. When networking professionally, someone will invariably ask:

  • What do you do?
  • Why are you here?

Rather than stand there searching for the appropriate words, its useful to answer these questions with a well-structured elevator speech about yourself. You can then ask them the same questions!

4. Go for it

Step out of your comfort zone and have a go. Challenge yourself and take advantage of the new networking opportunity. If you feel a little uncomfortable, here are some tips:

  • Be curious - ask questions and look interested
  • Join in – even if you’re not sure what is going on
  • Remember your networking goal – you’re here for a reason!

Networking can be daunting at the best of times, let alone in a new country. People who have studied abroad suggest that if you find it difficult:

Be kind to yourself and cut yourself some slack …
But don’t give up.

Students networking

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