As in-person gatherings are replaced with online calls, networking events at LSE have adapted to give students opportunities to speak with alumni while complying with COVID regulations. While this is a significant change, it also means that panels of alumni from around the world can gather together to share their insights. Recently, I attended networking events for LSE’s Careers in Creative Industries Week, where LSE Careers organized a series of LSE alumni speakers for students interested in communication, media, journalism, and other creative pursuits. Here are some tips to make the most of LSE networking online.
- Stay up to date on the events offered. Check the LSE Career Hub Events page periodically (events pop up constantly!) and bookmark the events that spark your interest.
- Make note of the day bookings open for your favourite events so that you can secure a spot. Most bookings open at 9:30am, so for events I was really keen on, I set an alarm the day before to be sure I wouldn’t get distracted and miss the booking. If the event fills up before you book, you can always join the waiting list in case someone cancels.
- Once you’re in, reserve a bit of time to prepare. Pay attention to the type of event to guide your preparation; for example, if it’s a “Meet the Alum” event, you should prioritize reading the biographies and researching the companies of the alumni speakers. Reflect on what you’d like to learn from the speakers, then brainstorm a few questions in advance about the company, industry, or alumni experience.
- Have your camera on. While it can be tempting to turn off your video, most LSE networking events are interactive, and it is easier to show that you are engaged when the speakers can see your face.
- Jot down notes. In addition to giving useful advice on entering the industry, I found that these events also sparked ideas for my dissertation. Also, by writing down your thoughts in the moment, you can ask more meaningful questions later in the event. Have a document or pen and paper ready to quickly write down any insights that strike you in the moment.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions and engage, either out loud or in the chat. Usually, the host of the event will clarify whether they want you to type your questions or raise your hand and speak. If the hosts don’t indicate a preference, I’ve noticed that people who ask questions out loud usually are more likely to have their questions answered, because the hosts might not be actively monitoring the chat as they answer other questions.
- Was there a speaker who particularly interested you? Follow up! In each session, the speakers usually say how they preferred to be contacted (often by a company email or their own LinkedIn), so don’t be afraid to connect through the specified channel. In my experience, LSE alumni are very receptive to connecting and answering questions, so take heart and reach out!
Still have questions? LSE Careers counsellors also hold sessions specifically on navigating LinkedIn networking, from improving your profile to advice on polite and effective outreach. Keep an eye out for these events or book a one-on-one appointment to ask a career counsellor your specific questions.