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Effective Networking Tips for STEM Students and Professionals

Networking in STEM does not have to be rocket science (unless, of course, you are a rocket scientist). Here are 3 tips for networking success:

1. Perfect your Pitch

Do you constantly get asked what you do? Perfect the art of the elevator pitch. Elevator pitches are short, persuasive speeches used in the business world – so why not use them in STEM? An elevator pitch is a short speech about your work that should be no longer than 60 seconds. In your elevator pitch, you must describe what you do, and why it is important, in a compelling, and understandable way. Develop an elevator pitch and practice it before conferences or meetings with important people. Make sure your elevator pitch is concise, informative, and explains why what you do is important. You may want to create two elevator pitches – one pitch targeted to people in your line of work, and one pitch that anyone can understand.

2.Get Informal with your Interviews

If you are looking to switch fields or learn more about a particular line of work, consider conducting informational interviews. An informational interview is a meeting with someone doing work that you would like to do. For example, if you are seeking work in the government research sector, set up an informal meeting over coffee with someone that works in a government research lab. Take some time to review their workplace and come up with a list of questions to ask them – you may want to know what kind of work they do and how they got their job. You can find a list of example informational interview questions here. You can use informational interviews to learn more about a job, make contacts at an employer, and learn about new job opportunities at an organization.

3. Redefine Networking!

Redefine what “networking” means to you: Networking does not have to be walking up to people at a business meeting and handing out business cards – in fact, you may not have business cards. Networking can be as simple as writing an email to someone to ask them to chat with you about their job or as complicated as discussing a person’s research with them at a conference.

In the amazing web series we host called the 1% Engineer Jake Voorhees spends some time talking about building your network and the different types of professional connections you can have in stem. Check out the web series here!