People tell me they are good at networking, I have found that is not the case.

This did not become readily apparent to me until two years ago. I found out by chance that I had three students, who did not know each other, who were all going to be in Paris at the same time.  The window of time was very short.  I introduced them all by email, and asked that they meet and get me some cool picture of the three of them in Paris.  That never happened.  What I found out later was they did not want to contact each other, because they did not know each other.

So I decided I would work harder to teach people how to network and the importance of networking.  But as things stand now, what I have created is not a network, but a wheel.  I will explain the difference.  A hub has me at the center and each person I know is connected only to me by a spoke on the wheel.  A network is a web of all sorts of connections.  A wheel is very inefficient; a network (web) is not.  A wheel is completely dependent on me to maintain the structure; again a web is not dependent on any one person.

What I do with people now, is when they are getting coop jobs, I introduce them to: 1. other people cooping in the same workplace; 2. other people in the same industry; 3. other people in the same geographic area.  Then I do follow up and ask how the network is coming along.  I am not asking, or forcing, people to like each other, I am asking you all to take the risk and meet people I introduce you to.  It is good practice on how to network

I encourage you to use the ‘Map of Where They Are’ from this website to find and get information from each other.  You need to use this site as a resource.  And in return you need to be available to meet and help people in the network.

Don’t be afraid of meeting someone, asking someone else for help or information, and of giving someone help and information.  I know you might not know each other, which is why I introduced you.  Use my name, if need be, in the subject heading of an email—‘Richard said I should get in touch with you re: (fill in the blank).’


Maintaining Your Network

Years ago I had one student who kept meeting people and she collected their business cards, set up a database, and then would periodically email them with career updates.  I know of one person who did this, there may be others, but ONE, out of over a thousand students I have dealt with?  You need to be managing the people you meet, especially when they are in the industry you are interested in.  But connections are valuable because you simply do not know who knows whom.  I think even keeping your old supervisors apprised of where you are and where you are going is handy.