Networking

 

Networking is the process of making connections and building relationships. These connections can provide you with advice and contacts, which can help make informed career decisions. Networking can even help you find unadvertised jobs/internships.

Networking Opportunities

  • Attend professional conferences, conventions, and presentations.
  • Visit people at a social club, community agency, or religious gathering.
  • Greet those who are sitting near you at a sporting event.
  • Talk with your neighbors.
  • Strike up a conversation while waiting in the check-out line at the grocery store.
  • Reconnect with old friends and colleagues online.

These are just a few of the many opportunities that you might have for networking. You can use these conversations and connections as ways to learn about business leads, find common areas of interests, and establish a working relationship with a potential mentor or colleague. If you establish a positive, long-term relationship with people, they might be able to refer you to particular job vacancies. Networking is a powerful way to get your foot in the door. Remember - you're not asking for a job, you are seeking information, a lead, a contact, or a referral. Think of it as a research project…without a grade.

 

Networking Tips

  • Expand Your Network: Join a professional organization and attend conferences and meetings with the goal of meeting at least one new person at each function that you attend. To find a professional association which matches your interests.
  • Utilize Contacts: Tell everyone you know that you are conducting a job search and what type of job you are looking for, include relatives, friends, professors, previous employers, etc.
  • Be Assertive: When at a function, whether social or professional, take the initiative and introduce yourself to people; don't wait for people to talk to you. Ask them about themselves and what they do.  (If you are shy, take it one step at a time. You don't have to overwhelm yourself.)
  • Write Thank You Notes: When you have the opportunity to talk with people either over the phone or in person, write a thank-you note.  Let them know that you appreciate the time they gave you and the information they shared. Also, ask them if they know of anyone else who would be able to provide you with more information.
  • Be Organized: Keep track of who you meet, where they work, and what they do.
  • Update Contacts: Stay in touch with contacts. Send them interesting articles or invite them for coffee.  Make sure they know that you are available to assist them too. Networking is a two-way street, update your notes with any important information that passes in conversation. People will appreciate your effort to inquire about how the big project they were working on went when you last spoke.

Check out our Networking Tips (pdf — 199 kb) for more information.

 

Informational Interviews

An informational interview is an informal conversation, usually lasting 20-30 minutes with a person working in a career field that interests you. It is not a job interview, and its purpose is not to find job openings. Ask questions like:

  • What was your major in college?
  • How did you get the job you have today?
  • What advice would you have for me as a student who wants to eventually be in a role similar to yours?

For more information about Informational Interviews and how to set one up check out our Informational Interview Handout (pdf — 335 kb). You also can schedule a meeting with one of our CDI Staff for assistance with finding a professional to interview.

 

Your Social Network

Social media is a great networking resource. Read more about social media on our LinkedIn & Social Media page.