Cornell University

Prepare to Network

Being able to describe your interests, goals, and skills succinctly is crucial in any networking situation. How can someone provide you with relevant advice or a useful contact if you don’t clearly articulate what you are looking for? 

Set Goals

Before you contact anyone, think about why you are connecting, and what you want to learn. Are you looking for information about different careers so you can choose your career path? Or are you looking for people working in a specific organization or career field to gain more information for your job search? Or are you seeking a specific job (e.g., government speech writing) or are you wondering how you might apply a particular skill set (e.g., foreign language skills)?

Be Ready to Introduce Yourself

Your self-introduction is often called an “elevator speech” or “elevator pitch,” because you should imagine that you are stuck in an elevator with someone and you need to tell them about yourself and pique their interest before they get off. Think about how you can use this short period of time to not only introduce yourself but also convey something about who you are, what you do, and what you offer.

To create a dynamic self-introduction: 

  • Write down a good assessment of your skills, interests, and abilities.
  • Determine and describe the most relevant pieces of information about yourself, including educational background, experiences, and transferable skills.
  • Combine these into a 2- to 3-sentence introduction about yourself.


  • “Hi, I’m Samantha Peters, a current sophomore at Cornell University. I am interested in health issues and would like to learn more about careers in public health. I would love to talk with you about your career path. Is there a time in the next few weeks when you would available to talk on the phone?”
  • “I’m interested in marketing and public relations. Last summer I did some PR work for a small nonprofit. I also have experience in these areas through my involvement in student and community organizations. Next year, I hope to obtain a position with a mid- to large-sized marketing/PR firm.”