Office of Career Success
Build relationships first. Ask for favors second.
Almost 80% of people are hired through word of mouth. It’s not only what you know, but who you know.
What is Networking?
Networking is the best way to find a job in your field. It is not designed to give you a job immediately, but to build established contacts who work in your area of interest. These established contacts are used as your eyes and ears for future job possibilities.
Networking is about building and maintaining relationships and having a means to tap into the hidden employment market of unadvertised jobs and internships. It is a tool to help you explore your career options, clarify your career goals, and develop connections with professionals in your field of interest.
Individuals in your network may assist and support you in varying capacities, all of which are valuable to your career development. Some may serve as mentors or references, while others may facilitate connections or assist with developing opportunities.
What Networking is NOT!
Networking is not telling a few friends, relatives, career services and/or faculty, “If you hear of anything, let me know.” There is nothing illicit or tactful about approaching friends and colleagues about job openings – it’s just not networking.
It is not one-sided. As you expand your network, so is your contact. If you have a skill, resource or contact that would be useful to them, share it.
What Do You Have to Offer?
- Knowledge of new products and services specific to your generation that a seasoned professional may have been aware of before or simply didn’t know how to use.
- Good reads—Busy people have very little time, so they are always open to books that come highly recommended.
- Recommend a fellow student that has the strengths and skills that the person is looking for, even if you do not.
- Volunteering for their favorite charity.
- Offer compliments, good listening skills, and other less tangible (but valuable) gestures of kindness and generosity.
Getting Into Your Comfort Zone
Creating a network is oftentimes very intimidating to students who feel as though they have no connection with the world of work. At first, networking can seem unnatural as the thought of rejection sends most people into a panic. However, preparing yourself in advance can alleviate the paralyzing effects associated with networking.
Techniques to Assist You in Network Preparation
- Framing or positioning yourself:
- Know your own interests, skills, abilities and values inside and out.
- Take a career assessment.
- Practice your elevator pitch.
- When you leave a positive impression while building your professional network, your new contact may mention you positively to a potential employer, pass your information on to someone else, or call you later with job leads.
- Know your own interests, skills, abilities and values inside and out.
- Conduct employer research.
- Know the key players in your industry, including individuals, employers and current trends.
- Understand that rejection is not a reflection of who you are and should not be taken personally.
- Confidence will be built with each positive response, persistence will be gained with each negative response. With the two working in conjunction with each other, you are well on your way to becoming a networking pro!
Cultivating Contacts You Already Have
Many students believe they have no place to start because they have no direct links to professionals in their field of study. This is simply not true. Just being a student gives you access to an excellent source of contacts: professors! In addition to professors, you can cultivate contacts within your:
- Immediate and extended family.
- Family friends and/or neighbors.
- Social clubs and organizations.
- Campus clubs and organizations.
- Church, synagogue and religious groups.
- Professional associations.
- Alumni and classmates.
- Former employers, supervisors and co-workers.
Cultivating New Contacts
The contacts you already have can be extended to secondary contacts. This will include those you may not know directly, but through someone who knows them. In addition, if you have not already done so, cultivate new contacts from the following:
- Patriots to Professionals LinkedIn Group
- Attending Information Sessions and Tables sponsored by Career Success.
How Do I Network?
- Talk about yourself and your goals.
- The more you talk about your skills and interests, what you have done, what you would like to do and where you’d like to do it, the more likely people will begin to see links between themselves and you.
- They will begin to share information about their own backgrounds and who they know and where they have been.
- Ask questions! Most people are flattered if you ask questions about what they do and how they got there, and if you ask for their opinions and advice.
- Remember that everyone knows of other people in their own field, but also in other fields and often in other geographic locations, so often people you already know can connect you to other valuable contacts.
- Plan for networking!
- Anticipate when you will be in a position to network and plan what you want to ask, what you want to communicate about yourself and how.
- For example, you might plan to take resumes to a job fair, but it would be awkward to take resumes to a social or sporting event.
- If you want to build your network in a particular field or area, one of the most effective strategies for doing so is informational interviewing.
The Wisdom of Dale Carnegie in Five Bullet Points
Dale Carnegie literally wrote the book on networking in 1936. "How to Win Friends and Influence People'' demystified the process of making friends out of strangers and inspired legions of business coaches to carry on Carnegie's message. Peter Handal, the chairman, CEO and president of Dale Carnegie & Associates, shared some of Carnegie's rules for meeting new people:
- Smile: "This is such a simple, basic rule, yet people just don't think about it," says Handal. They're so focused on needing to network at a conference that they don't realize they're walking around with a scowl on their face. Scowling, serious, expressions are forbidding, says Handal. People are more likely to warm up to someone who says good morning with a broad smile than they are to someone with a dour countenance.
- Ask a question: Joining a group engaged in conversation can be awkward. The best way to do so is to pose a question to the group after getting the gist of the conversation, says Handal. "You build your credibility by asking a question, and for a shy person, that's a much easier way to engage than by barging in with an opinion," he says.
- Listen: One of the most profound points Carnegie made in "How to Win Friends'' was that people love to talk about themselves. If you can get people to discuss their experiences and opinions—and listen with sincere interest—you can have a great conversation with someone without having to say much at all.
- Business cards: Always have them handy, says Handal. "They're an effective way for you to leave your name behind so that people remember who you are."
- Say the person's name: "People like to hear their own name," says Handal, pointing to another one of Carnegie's basic principles—that a person's name is the sweetest sound to that person. So when you meet someone, use his name in conversation. Doing so makes the other person feel more comfortable, like you really know him and he knows you.
Developing a Strategy and Approach When networking, you should take a direct approach by connecting with your contact in person, by telephone or by e-mail. Basic guidelines:
- Be genuine, confident, positive and enthusiastic in all communications.
- When you approach a contact, know the questions you want to ask and decide in advance
how to ask them.
- Do you want to know more about that person’s type of field or career path?
- Do you want to know what types of employees the person’s firm hires?
- Are you trying to learn about the requirements for a posted opening at the person’s firm?
- When you’re calling a “cold contact,” write down what you’d like to say on a card or piece of paper and keep it handy just in case you get nervous and forget your “lines.”
- Ask your contact if you may forward your résumé to him or her and, if the contact says yes, send it promptly, along with a cover letter referring to your conversation.
- Before you end a conversation with a “cold contact,” make sure you have the correct spelling of his or her name, the correct job title, mailing and e-mail addresses, and fax and telephone numbers.
- Email and Your Job Search Tips
- Keep the business cards you collect organized.
- On the back of each card, write brief notes about where you met, what you talked about, and what you found helpful.
- Keep an organized list of contact information and notes on contacts without business cards. (See Networking Contact Log.doc)
- Keep the details straight
- Correct spelling of first and last name
- Title, employer, address, telephone and e-mail
- Priority of contact (high, medium, low)
- Dates when contact is made and nature of contact
After you make a connection with a contact, be sure to send a thank you letter. This will indicate your appreciation of their time and maintain the relationship.
- On a weekly basis, check your network log and make contact with those individuals with whom you haven’t connected in a while.
- If your contact gives you additional names of individuals, make sure to connect with these leads as soon as possible.