Is networking scary? (It doesn’t have to be!) 

To most students, “networking” is a scary word, but it doesn’t have to be. As a Student Success Centre career counsellor and facilitator of the weekly career-pop ups, students often tell me that they know networking is important, but they haven’t had success with it. Or, they’re too nervous to try or don’t know where to start. First off, it’s okay not to know. And we’re here for you.  Here’s a short guide to help your networking journey. 

February 28, 2024

By: Cassie Fischer, career counsellor

Start by understanding the value 

There are many benefits to networking: 

  • Build professional networks that could support your career development now and in the future. 
  • Learn about application processes, job opportunities and in-demand skills to help specify your job search. 
  • Gain valuable insights into company culture and industry trends. 
  • Learn real-life examples of how graduates from your program have used their degree and university experiences in the real world. 
  • Continue improving your communication skills. 
  • Increase your chances of landing an interview. 

Acknowledge that networking doesn’t always have an immediate impact 

It’s important to recognize that the benefits of networking don’t always happen right away. However, if you approach it thoughtfully, including preparation and follow-ups, networking can set you up for future opportunities. In some cases, McMaster students find jobs from networking job fairs! 

Take time to do your research and attend networking events 

When preparing for networking events like job fairs, take time to do your research about the companies, positions, industries and career paths you’d like to learn about. Remember, Connect to Careers Job Fair is happening March 5, 2024!  

For tips on how to prepare for career fairs and networking events, including how to introduce yourself, questions to ask and generally how to interact with employers, read Career Fair Preparation.  

If you want to practice your approach and talk about your skills, experiences, values and why you’re great, drop-by and say hi at our career pop-ups, happening every Wednesday from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in PGCLL. You can also book one-on-one appointments on OSCARplus, under Student Success Centre > Appointments. 

If you need support overcoming barriers to networking and making career connections, email to learn about Career Access Professional Services (CAPS) and book an appointment (online or in person). 

Leverage McMaster networks to make connections 

Did you know you can find a mentor and sign up for career conversations through OSCARplus? Opportunities exist for one-on-one career conversations or long-term mentorship programs. You can explore career pathways, expand your network and gain more insight into the field you are interested in. Request a career conversation by visiting OSCARplus > Student Success Centre > Mentorship and Career Conversations. Learn how to prepare and what to expect at a Career Conversation. 

The Alumni Advisor Network is a database of McMaster alumni who are interested in helping members of the McMaster community succeed. Explore alumni profiles and easily set up an informational interview. For tips on how to conduct an informational interview, including how to prepare and what questions you might ask learn more about, visit Informational Interview tips.