Career Tips for International Students

Networking with Organizational Leaders in the U.S.


Dear Coach Kwan,

In the past, you advised that we should connect with small and medium-sized companies because of their flexible hiring policies and the better chances of reaching higher-ups. How do you propose I go about searching for these key people?


An avid ICAway blog reader

In my previous blog post, I advised that it might be a good idea to connect with small and medium-sized companies before aiming for larger corporations. For those of you who might not know how to approach this, here is what you can do. First, you have to make sure you know what you are looking for. Be specific about the industry or expertise you’d like to focus on: information technology, consulting, healthcare, and so on. Then, use these tools to find people in those industries:

1) Eventbrite

Eventbrite is one of the largest and best-known online platform for event management. You might have encountered it before, to reserve tickets for a big party or to attend the latest concert. There are a ton of events posted to their website (many of them free!). They are also very easy to navigate. For example, if you’re looking for a marketing analyst role, you can search for marketing analytics-related events in your city:

As you can see, you can select dates, category and event type. You can also make a note on whether it is a free event or not. By using Eventbrite, you can attend conferences, career fairs or conventions that you might not have heard of otherwise. Go to events related to your field, meet relevant people, and strike up a conversation.

2) Go to events organized by major business incubators in your area

For those of you who might not know, a business incubator is an organization that supports startup companies by providing tools and resources ranging from coaching services to physical space. Business incubators tend to partner up with multiple organizations to increase the number of available resources for the companies they are supporting and thus have an extensive community. Naturally, by going to events hosted by major business incubators, you have the opportunity to meet attendees from various different companies and organizations. You could network with the startups that are currently being supported, mid-sized global companies who are more keen on hiring international talent, or the “graduate” companies who have now become self-sustaining after the support of the business incubator. Search for major business incubators in your area; look at the events they are organizing and show off your polished networking skills!

3) Use LinkedIn Groups

If you find the right ones to join, LinkedIn Groups can be a very helpful asset to your search. Closed communities on LinkedIn Groups will have more quality content than what you might find as public content. You can go explore on your own. Or if you need someplace to start, check out the list of groups listed on this article. Once you have joined a group that aligns with your interests, you can look at the group managers or search for the people that you might want to forge a connection with. Now that you have set common ground through the group, you can send a personalized message to further your relationship with said person.

Remember that the advantage of connecting with a small and medium-sized company is the chance of getting to meet the higher-ups. Whether it is through an Eventbrite event, a business incubator-hosted event or a LinkedIn Group, your goal is to connect with leaders or key decision-makers within the company.