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Tips from the Class of 2016

Lovett networking illustrationDoes the term “networking” have a negative ring to it?

Do you get exhausted trying to sell yourself to people at networking events?

Do you feel that when you put your suit on, you also don a fake persona meant solely to impress?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, you are not alone. The act of networking is scary to many people, but often a change of perspective is all you need to turn the fear into an authentic and positive experience.

One of the goals of Sallyportal is to bridge some of the common networking barriers. By using the “Connect” tab, you can find many people in the Rice community who want to be a resource and help. You can stay engaged with the university by browsing events or volunteer opportunities dedicated to professional development — and you can network from anywhere in the world without wearing a suit!

We polled new alumni from the Class of 2016 and asked them to share their networking tips — check out their hard-earned insights below.

How do you prepare for networking?

 “Treat networking like you’re trying to make a friend. Ask lots of questions, and make the conversation about the other person. The best conversationalists are the ones that encourage others to do the talking.”

  • Mason Daumas, Kinder Morgan

“The best kind of networking is organic, and it can happen anytime. You never know who you’re going to meet, which is exciting! Don’t look at networking as trying to ‘sell yourself’, just be confident in who you are and your ability to hold a real conversation.”

  • Mariah Lawhon, Rice University Alumni Relations

 “If you’re at a networking event, it’s helpful to scope out those who you might have an affinity with beforehand so you can concentrate your energy and resources towards getting to know and impressing the people you want to work for, instead of blindly throwing your resume in everyone’s hands.”

  • Jarvis Miller, University of Michigan Ph.D. candidate

“Think of networking as building relationships with others. Then, it’s not simply an exchange of who can say something impressive next; it’s a matter of sharing and getting to know someone beyond what you might find on their resume or CV.”

  • Derek Brown, Portland State University Ph.D. candidate

How do you stand out?

“Networking is a lot more pleasant and productive when you look at it as an opportunity to make genuine personal connections and learn from others rather than trying to prove something about yourself or get a tangible reward out of it.”

  • Natalie Koonce, Egon Zehnder

“Getting people to talk about something they’re passionate about is an easy way to have a memorable conversation. The best conversations can’t be planned out and involve a lot of listening.”

  • Bo Kim, Acumen LLC

 “Build relationships by taking a genuine interest in someone. Get to know them and their life. Don’t get to know them only because they have something to offer." 

  • Alex Nunez Thompson, YES Prep Public Schools

 “Don’t always go into networking looking for a job. Grow a network of people with common interests and passion. Have awesome conversations about what you care about and the rest will come.”

  • Tyler Clapp, SpaceX

What should you do after a networking experience?

“Ask for a business card, even if it feels awkward at first. Form a connection, ask for the card and follow up in an email.”

  • Sandra Blackmun, Deloitte

“Don’t be afraid to reach out to people and utilize your connections! I was always worried about emailing random people and reaching out because I was worried I was inconveniencing them or that I would not get a reply. But, the worst that will happen is you won’t get a reply back, and that’s fine. Some of the internships I had were because I utilized my connections and went after them.”

  • Amritha Kanakamedala, Baylor College of Medicine

“Keep in touch with people you meet, and get to know people outside of just a work capacity. If you only know someone in a work context, then when your work involvement with them stops, so does the relationship.”

  • Will Eldridge, Rice MAcc candidate

Any other tips?

“Leverage your alumni friends. That’s how I got my job and numerous interviews.”

  • Greg Kinman, Palantir Technologies

 “Be genuine, be interested. People can tell when you’re being fake.”

  • Hannah Abrams, Baylor College of Medicine

“Emphasize quality over quantity, and try to be as authentic as possible.”

  • Jason Isaacs, Accenture

“Be yourself! You are impressive enough, and inauthenticity is detectable from miles away.”

  • Stacey Yi, Camp Kesem


For additional tips and articles on building a professional network, visit the Center for Career Development’s Pinterest board. Happy networking!

Share your Sallyportal story!

For the March 2017 Sallyportal Newsletter, we’re collecting mentoring stories. If you have a great mentoring story (funny or frightening), share it with us!

submit your story

Career Roundups, powered by Sallyportal — Feb. 27 through March 3

The Rice community is about to get networking! Join us at Career Week, Feb. 27 through March 3, where each evening there will be a networking event centered around a different career cluster. See event details at the CCD’s events calendar page.

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