How to Network in the ‘New Normal’
As workplaces begin to reopen this fall, both current students and alumni may be looking for opportunities to make or renew professional connections. A great resource for making these connections is Stevens’ extensive network of alumni and corporate partners, according to Nicole Malantchouk ’12 M.S. ’18, assistant director of outreach and professional advancement at the School of Business at Stevens and an alumna of that school.
“No matter where you are in your career, you can find someone from the Stevens network that can help you on your path,” she says.
Networking is essential for students starting their careers, but strong professional relationships can help anyone in a time of transition — be that pivoting careers, developing a new skill or vying for a promotion. Reaching out to others doesn’t have to be intimidating, Malantchouk stresses, because networking is, essentially, just talking to people.
“That’s something we all know how to do, and it’s something that many of us like doing,” says Malantchouk, who enjoys networking so much she’s made a career out of it. “I’m passionate about Stevens and about helping people. The outcome is connecting students with employers for the purpose of starting their careers, and that’s fulfilling. In the role of a mentor, alumni can have that experience, too.”
In many ways, the pandemic has made networking easier than ever. With video calling as the new norm, you can connect with anyone from anywhere. Despite that access, it’s important to do your homework, says Malantchouk.
“Be strategic about who you’re reaching out to and provide context as to how and why you have identified that person,” she advises. “Showing that strategy and that interest helps the person receiving the request feel selected.”
Once your outreach has been successful and you’ve scheduled a video call, it’s necessary to set the tone of that virtual meeting so that it isn’t too casual or informal. You shouldn’t let the ease of networking virtually lull you into a sense of complacency, Malantchouk says. It’s still an opportunity to showcase your professionalism, despite happening in your own home. Ensure that the conversation is focused and productive and pay special attention to your attire and your background. This effort will project professionalism and show that you value the time of the person with whom you’re connecting.
From recent graduates to established professionals, anyone can benefit from tapping into the Stevens network. Start by doing a search on LinkedIn for Stevens alumni in your field. Through the Stevens network, you could find a mentor and receive valuable advice. Malantchouk encourages any alumni interested in mentoring current business students to reach out to her office.
“Becoming a mentor is a great way to give back to the school that helped you get where you are today,” she says.