A Practical Guide

Networking is an important career planning strategy that the Career Resource Center can help you develop. Through networking you can research career options and learn about job and internship opportunities. Obtaining jobs by only applying to positions that are advertised online or through on-campus recruiting limits your job prospects and chances for success. Additionally, since recruitment firms and online referral services are expensive, most managers will start their search by asking fellow employees if they know good candidates. If you come to mind because you have effectively networked, you will have a greater chance of being considered for positions that are never even posted.

How does networking work?

Essentially, networking is speaking to individuals with the intent to obtain career-related information, develop mentoring contacts, and build a professional network of individuals in desired industries and organizations. Networking not only is key to your current job search, but will continue to be important throughout your career. In speaking to others in, or connected to, your field of interest you can learn about:

  • Industry and company trends
  • Duties and responsibilities of positions
  • Career advancement paths
  • Appropriate internships
  • Strength of the job market
  • Professional associations
  • Other networking contacts or referrals
  • Names of potential employers
  • Relocation information/housing considerations


Who is in your network?

Your network includes: faculty, staff, friends, family, family friends, alumni of UB or your other alma maters, religious leaders, neighbors, classmates and their parents, other recruiters, co-workers, casual contacts at social events, in-class speakers, contacts through student clubs, etc.

No longer should the phrase “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” discourage you. Let it inspire you to meet people around you who can be your network.

Before you start.

  1. Know yourself: your strengths, needs, interests, career path
  2. Generate your elevator speech
  3. Identify industries, geographic areas and career fields on which to focus
  4. Use resources to find people with whom to network
  5. Do not be afraid to start conversations

How or where can I begin to network?

Networking is a process. Networking can begin and progress in different ways and in different settings including, but not limited to, a career fair, an employer panel, an information session, a company site visit, a professional meeting or dinner, through a personal or professional referral, or on-line networking resource. Networking can be planned or sometimes happen organically.  

For example, let’s say you are planning to attend a student career event and you anticipate meeting employers or alumni. It is not appropriate at these types of events to engage in lengthy conversations with professionals. Your goal should be to:

  1. Introduce yourself (elevator speech)
  2. Allow the professional to introduce themselves or engage with you briefly
  3. Politely ask for a business card
  4. Say, thank you and it was a pleasure meeting them

Depending on the situation you could mention that you would like to possibly speak to them in the near future and that you will be in touch. This continued and planned future career conversation is referred to as the informational interview or networking meeting.

Conversation Examples

Caution: It's essential to customize your messages to contacts. Do not simply cut and paste these examples into your emails. Our contacts who get emailed or called often will notice when the same terminology is used repeatedly and not respond as readily to those who don't make their emails relevant and unique. Create your own positive impression.

Over the Phone

Hi, I’m Vijay Kapoor, a marketing MBA student at the University at Buffalo School of Management. I received your contact information from the Career Resource Center (alumni database). I’m not calling for a job – I would like to ask you some career-related questions about your position as a marketing director and the Buffalo advertising market. Your professional insight will assist me with my job search. If you are not free at this time, I’d be happy to set up another time to talk briefly in person or over the phone.

Depending on how the conversation progresses, be prepared with well-developed questions based on research you have already done and be prepared to discuss why you have an interest in that industry. Remember to speak clearly and show enthusiasm to make up for the lack of nonverbal communication.

Through Email

"Dear Mr./Ms. X:
I am currently a first year MBA student at the University at Buffalo School of Management and received your alumni contact information from the Career Resource Center. As an alumnus, I am hoping you would be willing to share your insight of the NYC banking industry

As the East Coast Regional Manager for First Republic Bank, I’m sure you are very busy. Would you be able to chat for 15 minutes to answer a few questions about some employment trends in banking you’ve noticed and to offer advice on what you think makes a candidate competitive? We can talk by phone or via email, whichever you prefer. Please call me collect at 716-123-4567 or email at

I have attached my résumé for your convenience. Suggestions about the résumé content or format are welcomed. I appreciate your help. Thank you for time. I look forward our conversation.

At the Lunch Meeting

The key is to ask a lot of questions about the person with whom you are sitting. Converse about topics that are important to that person, and at the appropriate time, let the person know about your background and future plans.

“Hello. I’m Ann Smith."

Remember to clearly pronounce your name with space between your first and last. Smile, offer your firm and confident hand to shake, and establish eye contact.

As greeting continues through introductions:

“I’ll be graduating from UB in May with a BS in business and a concentration in human resources. I have some HR-related experience creating Excel personnel reports as part of my job at Tops Markets, where I also participate in training new employees. I’m seeking an HR internship, possibly in recruiting or training and development.”

Proactively summarize what you're doing in your job search:
“In addition to checking want ads and Internet job sites, I’ve been sending résumés directly to companies and working through network contacts, including some UB alumni. I’ve even done some informational interviews, which have been very helpful.”

This may prompt some offers to help such as:
“Here’s my business card; send me your résumé,” or “Sounds interesting; I’d like to see your résumé to get a better idea of your background and qualifications,” or “My uncle’s company may be hiring someone in HR; send me your résumé and I’ll pass it along.”

Carry a pen and small notepad, so you can respond quickly:
“I’d be happy to email my résumé tomorrow. Do you have an email address I can send it to?”

After a Class Presentation

"Hi, I’m Jane Doe.

Thank you for coming in to talk to our class about the effects of the new shipping regulations on the global supply chain. It's interesting to see the connection between what we are learning in class and how international supply lines are managed from those dealing with these real issues every day.

I’d like the chance to learn more about today’s topic and especially about your company. Would you mind if I followed up with a few more questions via email in the future? May I have your business card?"

Then the professionalism of your future correspondence will help develop an on-going learning and networking relationship.

The Rebuttal to “We Don’t Have Jobs Open Now”

"That’s okay. I am really interested in talking with you about your role within the firm, your career path and advice you would have for someone who plans to pursue public accounting."

General Networking Tips

  • Have questions prepared ahead of time (40 questions to ask in an informational interview)
  • Always be polite, appreciative and respectful
  • Do not monopolize their time
  • If you get voicemail, be brief (10-20 seconds), speak clearly and leave your phone number, but say you will call back on a specific date/time
  • Do your research about their company before you reach out to them
  • Do not ask for a job
  • Meet in person, if possible
  • Use summer, winter and spring breaks to do geographic-specific networking
  • Always send a thank you within a few days
  • Follow-up is your responsibility

Networking Resources

In addition to the resources above, we encourage current students to take advantage of the following: