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Tips and tricks for networking in Boston

Posted by Alex Pearlman  January 5, 2012 09:28 AM

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networking event tips.jpgBy Lina Roque

Over 250,000 students attend college in Boston and Cambridge; thousands more go to schools in surrounding suburbs. And come May, a whole bunch of them graduate and look for jobs, so it’s daunting trying to stand out. As that old adage goes, “it’s not about what you know but who you know” -- meaning, it’s a lot easier to get a job if you know someone.

But that someone doesn’t have to be your best friend, co-worker, or professor; you just need to have a symbiotic relationship. Here’s a step-by-step guide to networking in Beantown -- now get out there and get your foot in the door!

Use Your Alumni Network. Whether you loved or hated your school, universities stay in touch with their alumni, so you should be using that network to your advantage.

  • Attend Alumni Events. Most schools hold alumni events, meet-ups, and happy hours, so go to them! Or look for alumni clubs and organizations, and get involved. Just as friends like to hire friends, alumni like to hire fellow alumni.
  • Reach Out on Social Networks. Most alumni are flattered and happy to hear from undergrads or fellow grads. Ask them how they got to where they are now, what they did to set themselves apart, or what they would do differently if they could. Even if they’re not in a position to get you a job, they might know someone who could.
Use Social Networks. Social networks can help localize your interaction. Boston is a pretty young, hip city, so most professionals have a profile on at least one site. A quick message can go a long way if you’re looking to get connected, and social networks are a great way to stay in touch and build a rapport as well.
  • LinkedIn. Join Boston groups and associations based on your interests. For example, if you type in “Boston,” you’ll get results that include the Boston Networking Club, BU Alumni, and Network After Work. Participate in discussions, put in your two cents, and don’t be afraid to reach out if there’s someone in the group you’re interested in talking to!
  • Twitter. If there’s a particular company you’re interested in and would love to work for, follow their tweets and engage with them. A public Twitter list of professionals you admire, for example, can help you keep track of what’s going on in your desired field. A lot of companies tweet their job postings, and that online interaction is another great way of getting your foot in the door.
  • A Note on Facebook. Use your best judgment. You might be better off keeping professional interactions off this platform unless you’ve been very careful with your privacy settings and/or what goes onto your profile.
Attend Networking Events. Sure, virtual interaction is good, but I can’t stress enough how important it is to physically go somewhere and meet people face-to-face. But there’s no harm in finding your networking events online!
  • Eventbrite always has an abundance of free events in Boston; their whole mission is to bring people together around live experiences.
  • Meetup is a great way to find people with similar interests; a lot of groups meet on a regular basis in a common location. The site is popular for business meet-ups and non-business events, so don’t be afraid to attend the latter as well!
  • Twtvite allows you to find Boston tweet-ups based on trending events and popularity. People who are heavy Twitter users are usually business-minded, open connectors, and looking to meet others, so tweet-ups are great for creating lasting professional relationships (as long as you stay engaged with your new acquaintances via Twitter after the event!).
  • Conventions and Trade Shows are always happening in Boston. Definitely attend; they’re hubs of professionals looking to connect. But they usually cost a decent amount of money, so if your company or school won’t pay for it (always check!), email the event coordinator or contact person and ask to volunteer. You’ll still meet people, even if you’re “working.”
Quick Tips. Woody Allen may have said that 90 percent of life is just showing up, but I can’t say I agree. Once you meet people or attend events, you can’t stay stagnant, or else you’ll sink to the bottom. These three tips can be networking game-changers.
  • Bring a business card. If you don’t have a business card, at least have a card with your name, email, personal website, Twitter handle -- anything that’ll give the person you’re handing it to a way to contact you.
  • Have a few conversation starters in mind. Never stand alone in the corner at an event.
  • Do your homework. If you can find it before your event, scan the attendee list, do some “research” (i.e., Googling, online stalking), and learn about those you want to meet. Once you get to your event, you’ll have a game plan in mind and know who you can’t afford to miss.

What networking advice would you give to job seekers?

Photo by BAIA (Flickr)

About Lina -- My life could be described as a cross between Eliza Thornberry's (hello '90s!) and 'Mean Girls,' having been home-schooled in the Amazon in my junior high years, then moving to Small Town, USA, and attending real high school. I attended and graduated business school with a hippie-meets-corporate-girl mentality and a passion for doing good and keeping it real. Now, I'm a hands-on media girl, tech-savvy, and have a desire to communicate news and trends from a multicultural perspective.

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This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
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