Networking 101


You’ll be able to get a job or recognition for your accomplishments if you keep up-to-date with the people in your community. Establishing professional relationships with particular people and involving yourself in particular professional communities will change you: not only will you learn a variety of interesting points of view, but you will also become more comfortable in your subject knowledge because you will be engaged in an ongoing conversation with people you know.

Consider a few “networking basics” as you enter your second semester of senior year and prepare to make as many meaningful connections in your job hunt as possible.

Networking Basics for Finding a Job

1. Start with people you know.

List the people you know—friends, family, neighbors, professors, coaches, family friends, etc.—and start chatting with those people about your career interests and theirs. Then, slowly start asking these people to introduce you to other people in their networks. If you are gracious and genuine, most people are happy to provide some advice and connections.

  1. Conduct informational interviews.

Schedule time on your calendar to meet with or call each person. Always come prepared with a list of questions you would like to ask people about your career and job search.

Some example questions:

– What publications do you read on a regular basis and recommend I read to stay current and knowledgeable?

– What experiences and activities in college best helped you prepare for your career?

– Would you be willing to look at my resume and provide some feedback?

  1. Be the first to follow up.

Whenever you meet a professional contact, hear about a job or make a connection at a job fair, follow up that same day with an e-mail or phone call.

  1. Always ask the #1 most important networking question.

Whenever you ask anyone for help, guidance, a connection or a job lead, remember to say, “Thank you so much for your help. Please let me know if there is anything I can ever do for you.” This shows that you understand that networking must be mutually beneficial to be effective. Offer your help even if you can’t think of any reason why the person you are talking to could need something from you.

  1. Volunteer

Volunteering is a great way to build your skills, expand your leadership experience and enhance your professional network. Here are some suggestions for making the most of community service and volunteering:

– Volunteer to do something you really love, such as working with animals, building things or being outside—you’ll get a great feeling from helping others and you’ll relieve some of the stress of job hunting.

– Volunteer to write articles or report on events for a volunteer organization’s website or e-newsletter—request a byline with your name so this effort adds to your Google results.

– Lead a project, initiative or event—leadership experience is very important to employers. If you don’t have a lot of it, then volunteer to start or manage a volunteer effort—most nonprofit organizations will be delighted for you to take on as much responsibility as you can handle effectively.

– Chat with people while you’re volunteering—this is a great way to meet new people for informational interviews and practice your 15-second pitch.

– Share your job search goals with your volunteer organization—many nonprofit leaders are very connected in their communities, including the for-profit sector.

Networking Basics Once You Have the Job

  1. Know your goals.

Getting a promotion? Being invited to conferences? Finding a new job? Filling your life with intelligent conversation? Developing leadership skills? Clear goals will help you maintain focus. In planning your career, know what you care about.

  1. Identify some relevant people.

Given how your particular professional industry operates, who can assist you to reach your goals? How do you find these people? Most of the methods are quite basic – asking people who have worked in your industry for a while, attending social and/or professional events, even chance mentions of people in conversation. Accumulate a list of potential colleagues or people who can help you achieve your goals.

  1. Communicate your goals with the right people.

Practice explaining your goals in a way that puts you on common ground with the people who can most assist you. Now you are ready to build a community for yourself that includes relevant people from several different areas. The point here is to develop relationships with people, and relationships are founded on commonalities. These commonalities might include shared values, shared interests, shared goals or anything else of a professional nature that you might share with someone.

  1. Get involved.

As part of your professional development, you should belong to at least one professional organization. Volunteer to serve on a committee. This is a great way to meet others in your field in a non-threatening and collaborative environment. Through your service you will meet people you wish to add to your network and you’ll be able to interact with them in a positive and focused way.

Source: The New York Times