Connecting with others is a powerful tool at any stage in your career. Whether you’re looking for a job, applying to graduate schools, searching for internships, or seeking information about careers, talking to people who know something about your field of interest is especially important for confirming your interest in the field, learning insider tips and strategies and locating jobs and internships. According to the National Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 70% of all jobs are found through networking (career conversations).
Networking is not:
- Calling every person you know (or don’t know) and asking them for a job
- Working a room in an attempt to collect business cards and make contacts with people who can provide you with something of value
- Asking for a job
- Randomly passing out resumes
- Using people for information you think they have
- A give and take process of connecting with people and building lasting relationships
- About meeting new people, sharing information and learning about potential opportunities and various career fields
- Meeting and getting to know people who are willing to share with you career information and advice
- Building ongoing relationships to exchange information and advice
- Following up and maintaining contact with those who have assisted you
Use networking as a means to:
- Explore career opportunities
- Learn more about a major, industry or company
- Gather advice from different perspectives
- Tap into the hidden job market – remember, a single personal connection can lead to multiple opportunities
- Build your base of contacts for future reference and provide you with a support network
Networking Starts With Who You Know
The contacts you make can lead to future employment. Everyone has a network; it’s just a matter of thinking broadly and creatively about who is in it. This includes friends, family, neighbors, teachers/faculty (past or present), employers/coworkers (past or present) members of professional societies, employers who come to campus, alumni, etc. In addition, the ever-evolving world of social media has opened up countless new ways to network virtually with virtually anyone.
Keep in mind, networking is a skill, and like most things, can be learned, practiced and improved over time.
Download our Discovering Your Network worksheet to get started.
- Networking can happen anywhere at any time and we are here to help. Check out our events calendar to keep up to date with networking events in our office. We offer information sessions, office hours, speaker series, workshops and professional development series throughout the academic year.
- There are many social media tools you can use to help you get started on building your professional network. Check out our Social Media Guide to learn more.
- Informational Interviews: a practice interview, where you are the interviewer with the goal of learning all about a specific type of career or company. Your interviewee is anyone you want to learn more about or someone who can give you an insider’s scoop. Informational interviews allow you to ask those questions you’ve always wondered about from a professional who is working the field. Download our comprehensive Informational Interview Guide to learn more.
Successful networkers are:
- Open-minded and willing to meet new people
- Prepared and persistent
- Informed and up-to-date on current events (i.e., news, industry, etc.)
- Respectful of everyone they meet and thank their contacts for their time
- Able to set clear, realistic and achievable goals
- Not afraid to ask for the information they need
You don’t need to have all of these aspects to be a great networker. Take it one step at a time, and remember that networking can be learned, practiced and improved over time.
Schedule an Appointment
No matter where you are in your career journey, learning how to network effectively will pay off in the long run. It takes time to build connections and hone your networking skills. The earlier you start, the better. Schedule an appointment with a career coach to get started.