Networking Guide

Networking is a process through which you thoughtfully create and sustain relationships to exchange information. The most successful networking, like any relationship, is built upon mutual benefit.

Steps to Success

Engage in the self-inquiry process

Before you begin building your professional network. Take some time to reflect on who you really are, what makes you unique and what career-related aspirations you have. Doing so will allow you to feel more natural and authentic when building relationships, especially with strangers. See our Know Yourself.

Learn what networking is and is not.

Keep in mind that meeting people and developing relationships is something you already know how to do. Apply the techniques you already use to meet and follow-up with fellow classmates, strangers at a party, professors, coaches, advisors and so on.

Develop a 30-Second Elevator Pitch

Build your Network of Helpful Humans

Generate a list of people you have already developed relationships with at this point.

Keep in mind, it is not only about who you know but who they know as well. Think about the Five Fs:
Friends, Family, Faculty, Fellow Peers and alumni, Foundations and Associations.

Practice and then practice some more.

There is no better way to strengthen your communication and increase your confidence than to actually practice! See our Informational Interviewing Guide .

Follow up to maintain your relationships.

This is the most critical part of the process. It’s simple to just meet a lot of people but maintaining your relationships will require time and effort. Don’t forget to thank people when they help you. This will ensure that they will help you again in the future. Sites like Facebook and LinkedIn are great tools to maintain your relationships so learn how to use them effectively.

Additional Resources

LinkedIn Guide

  • Networking is Key -Examine your network and develop next steps
    To successfully navigate the job search, you must utilize the people that you know! Networking allows you to learn about different industries and current openings, helps you make contacts at companies, and enables you to gain the inside scoop. While obtaining a job or internship is the goal, effective networking does not solely consist of asking someone to help you find a job. You must inform your contacts about your career interests and goals before they can help you. Before you can start networking you must identify your network. Fill in for each of the categories to examine your existing network.

    Step 1: Personal Connections

    • Relatives and Friends
    • Academic Contacts (Professors, Administration)
    • Former Employers (Part-Time Jobs, Internships)
    • Campus Organizations and Community Involvement (Clubs, Sports, Volunteer Work)
    • Networking Events (Career Fairs, TechConnect)
    • Professional Associations

    Step 2: Virtual Connections

    • LinkedIn (1st, 2nd, 3rd, Group)
    • Duke Alumni Association
    • Facebook
    • Twitter

    Step 3: Connections of Connections

    • Who do your connections know?

    Action Steps What steps will you take next to apply what you have learned from this Networking Guide? Prepare and Practice

    • Create and Consider your introduction for different contexts
    • Seek out opportunities to practice (e.g., networking events)

    Expand Network

    • Access Alumni and Professional Networks (utilizing tools such as LinkedIn and the Duke Alumni Directory)
    • Join and get involved in Professional Associations

    Nurture Network: Establish

    • Timeframe
    • Activity

    Clarify and commit to your next steps.

  • Resources for Connecting with Startups

    Successful entrepreneurship is all about successful networking, which means you should be doing it too. Most startups include the contact information of their founders and employees on their websites. Reach out and ask for a conversation in-person, over the phone, or virtually to introduce yourself and learn more.

    At Duke

    Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative 

    Learn about a wide variety of resources, programs, and events, and connect with alumni and local mentors and entrepreneurs. Student organizations, summer programs, workshops, networking opportunities, competitions and funding resources, and more are available through I&E.

    Duke GEN

    An active network of Duke entrepreneurs that holds events on campus and across the country. It is also a LinkedIn group, which is a great way to reach out to people directly.


    An annual networking fair in February that offers resources and information about available jobs and internships at over 30 startup companies. In Handshake, select Job and Internship SearchAdvanced Search, and Yes on Affiliated with StartupConnect to find startup companies who are hiring Duke students.

    The Foundry

    Provides 7,600 square feet of project space for Duke undergraduate and graduate students focused on engineering, energy, entrepreneurship, and sustainability to build ideas from the ground up.

    Beyond Duke


    A hotbed for entrepreneurship. Check out local start-up hubs, incubators, and accelerators such as American Underground, First Flight Venture Center, Groundwork Labs, HQ Raleigh, Southeast TechInventures, The Startup Factory, and more. Many of these organizations offer tours, mentorship programs, networking events, internship and full-time positions, and co-working space.


    The largest directory for both startup companies and positions. Do not wait for the perfect position to be posted, find cool startups and reach out.


    Database for opportunities at startups.

    Venture for America

    Two-year fellowship program in emerging U.S. cities.


    Search this internship database for opportunities at startups by filtering by Organization type, startup.

    American Underground

    Local Google for Entrepreneurs Tech Hub, works closely with Duke Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

While not required, business cards can be an easy way to exchange contact information at interviews, career fairs, conferences, networking events, or other social situations. Plus, offering your business card can be a good prompt for an employer to offer theirs in return.