How to Make Professional Friends

Career Desiggn Center student employee standing next to blue and white trike at pop-up with UB students.

80% of jobs or internships are found by making connections with professionals and alumni. The more professional friends you have in your network, the better your chances of finding the right opportunity.

Getting Connected Is Easier Than You Think

Often, hearing the words “connections” and “networking” can easily make your heart beat faster and your palms start to sweat. 😰 😱 

It’s Okay. Take a DEEP breath.

Think of “connections” or people in your “professional network” to be more like friends. Friends tend to help friends when they are in need. 

What Types of Professional Friends Are There?

The more professional friends you make, the wider your network becomes which can lead to more jobs, internships and opportunities.

  1. An Adviser - someone who has done what you want to do.
  2. An Advice Giver - someone that is in a different field than you.
  3. A Connector - someone who knows people who have done it before.
  4. An Expert - someone who you trust who will give you honest feedback.
  5. A Backup - someone who you might need in the future.
  6. An Alum - someone who was a former student at the University at Buffalo.

Ways to Make Professional Friends

Meet Alumni Meet Employers Informational Interviews

An informational interview sounds more complex and scarier than it really is. It's just a conversation with someone, like a professional or alum, about their career story. You may also get insider tips about a job/internship, industry or company. Everyone has a story to tell, so just ask about it.

Hint: Just like you, when they started out, someone probably helped them along the way.

Tips for Starting a Conversation

  • Introduce yourself, be friendly, smile and most of all, be you.
  • Come prepared with potential topics and questions to ask.
  • Thank them for their time.
  • Ask to see if you can continue your conversation later by connecting with them on LinkedIn.

Questions you could ask

Tips for after your informational interview

• Send an email or hand written thank you note after the interview to thank them.
• Be sure to let them know how things worked out and how their advice made a difference.  

Learn New Career Skills at Upcoming Skillshops

Get professional advice for writing your resume, interviewing, finding a job and so much more at our popular “skillshops.”

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