• Kwan Segal

12 Do’s and Dont's When You Network as an International Student

Updated: Oct 25, 2020

Out of all the 7 steps to career success that I teach my international students, networking has been their biggest challenge. Most students admitted that it took them at least 5 minutes to get their nerve up and rehearse a perfect introduction before their first hello. Most of the time, I believe that fear comes from not knowing what you should do and what you should avoid. So here are a few tips to help international students enjoy networking and make it work to their advantage during their career search.

  1. Before going to an event, research the topic, key speakers, and potential audience. You might need to learn new English terms and industry vocabulary so that you can understand what people say and know what to say to them.

  2. Speak clearly and slowly, especially when introducing yourself. On the other hand, try to remember the other person’s name and their job or major.

  3. Be curious about what people do. If it’s a professional, ask them about their job. Find out what is required for the position, what they enjoy about their job, and so on. Ask them for advice. If it’s a student, talk to them about their major and their career aspirations.

  4. Introduce a new connection to someone in your existing network if you know they can help each other out. Networking is not just collecting email addresses or phone numbers. You need to build connections to expand and strengthen your network.

  5. Gather their contact information or ask to connect with them via LinkedIn. End the conversation by asking something like: “Is there anything I can do to help you with (their current project or situation)?”

  6. Remember to follow up. Send them a message through email or LinkedIn to thank them for their advice or simply to say it was nice to meet them.

Don’t do these:

  1. Don’t be nervous about your English. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to repeat if you can’t hear them clearly or explain more if you don’t fully understand them. It’s better to ask than to misunderstand them.

  2. Don’t start with “I’m from ABC (country)” unless you’re going to a cultural potluck. In professional settings, make people remember you by your area of expertise instead of your country of origin.

  3. Don’t show disinterest or distraction during your conversation. If you do not truly enjoy talking to someone, do not drag the conversation out. Simply say “it’s been nice talking to you. Hope you enjoy the event!" Then move on.

  4. Don’t ask for a job or an internship. Instead, talk about your career goals and what you have done to get closer to your goals.

  5. Don’t have shallow interactions, but do not stick with the same person throughout the event. You are there to meet more people and explore new perspectives.

  6. Don’t be afraid to offer your insights about their topic. Turn the conversation into a meaningful discussion if it happens to be something you are knowledgeable about.

All the best with your future networking events!

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