As an undergraduate at DePaul, Zachary Deegan (LAS ’15) made it his mission to explore as many careers as possible. He accomplished this feat by tapping into the Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) network, which connects students and graduates with mentors in the alumni community. A sales development representative at Salesforce, Deegan is now on the other side of the table; he serves as an ASK mentor, guiding students in their career journeys.
Below, he offers his top tips for successful networking.
Define your priorities
Identify the qualities that matter the most to you in a job. Those qualities might be development, compensation, flexibility, exposure or something else entirely. Rank these attributes and keep them in mind as you meet with potential employers.
Cast a wide net
Have as many conversations as you can. Even if those conversations end up deterring you from a company or industry, they are still beneficial. Knowing what you don’t want to do is as important as knowing what you do want to do.
Set short- and long-term goals
Know what you’re working toward. Maybe your goal is to secure an internship in 90 days. If so, set manageable short-term goals that will propel you toward that long-term objective. For example, those interim goals might include sending five email outreaches per week, scheduling five conversations per month and establishing 15 meaningful contacts prior to applying/interviewing for the internship.
Follow up, stay connected and keep people informed
Sending thank you notes is the bare minimum of what you should be doing. An industry or company may not be the right fit today, but things could change in the future. Keep those doors open by continuing dialogue. Let previous mentors know when you’ve found success. Stay relevant. Stay appreciative.