Tips for Networking This Summer

Congratulations to the official last day of the Spring semester! First order of business is to relax and celebrate the conclusion of a long Spring semester. After that, many will be looking ahead to summer plans, internships, part-time jobs, research, travel, or more. Regardless of what your formal plans are for the summer months, taking some time to casually network can be a great way to learn more about different industries or set yourself up for future applications.

In a previous blog post, I shared research suggesting that people often underestimate how caring and interested strangers are in our own stories. If that was enough to start allowing you to get comfortable with the idea of networking, I’d like to take today’s post to offer some tips on how to get started with networking this summer:

Start small

Networking can feel extremely awkward and intimidating especially when it involves ‘cold calling’ (or emailing) people you don’t really know. Instead of worrying about that too soon, start with the people around that. That could be a family member, friend from high school, or co-worker that you’re interning with this summer. Even casually connecting with these people is often overlooked as a part of networking. Ask to go grab coffee or lunch, play some Mario Kart or League of Legends, or do anything that gives you a chance to chat. These closer-knit connections are often the most powerful as you can build a shared comfort and understanding.

Expand to people with shared connections

Finding a shared connection with people is an easy way to start a conversation and potentially network outside of just the people you already know. A shared connection could be a common person you know, an interest, or even that you both went to Penn. I don’t love using social media, but LinkedIn has excellent ways to identify Penn alumni without having to connect or message anyone directly. If you search for the University of Pennsylvania, there’s an alumni tab where you can filter by employer, geographic location, skills, major, and more:

Screenshot of Penn’s Alumni section on LinkedIn

Browse through to learn through a Penn alumni’s career trajectory or personal experience. If you see someone that could be interesting to talk to, rather than connecting with them in LinkedIn, you can use Penn’s alumni database to find their email address and reach out to them there:

Remember to thank and/or update your network

I’m often asked what to do after sitting down to network with someone. You might look back at the end of the summer or even now and realize it’s been a while since you last spoke with someone who you had a great connection with. An easy way to keep that relationship warm is to send them a thank you or update them on how things have been going. The end of the summer is a perfect time to do that as you can easily give them a quick recap of how your summer went and what you’re looking forward to next. People always appreciate being thanked so if you remember a key topic you spoke about, referencing that by way of thanking them can always stand out.

As always, we have tons of additional resources available on our website in the Make Connections and Network section.

By Natty Leach
Natty Leach Senior Associate Director, Wharton Undergrad / Co-host, CS Radio