Why network? Because it is the most effective job search strategy! Networking is simply building and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships. Although networking can initially be intimidating, your time and effort are worth it. Networking allows you to:
- Get advice and support
- Increase your level of confidence for interviewing
- Form on-going professional relationships
- Learn about job openings and get job search advice
- Gain insider industry information and knowledge of industry trends
- Develop and refine your communication skills
Start Building Your Network
1. Who do you know?
- Brainstorm everyone who could possibly serve as a contact.
- Don’t limit yourself to people who are in your career field. Friendly, accessible people in unrelated fields often have contacts they would be happy to share.
- To get started here are some suggestions: family friends, relatives, neighbors, professors, advisers, classmates, alumni, former co-workers and supervisors, and members of professional organizations.
- Approach all networking opportunities with a game plan. Before you meet with a contact or attend a networking event, prepare and do your homework.
- Develop your “elevator speech” or “personal
- An elevator speech is a 30-60 second statement that quickly and clearly communicates your skills and experiences and also summarizes your education and target job.
- Be thoughtful and prepare a list of questions.
- Connect first with people you know using the list you generated. Tell them about your career plans and ask for their advice and for referrals.
- Attend events and be visible. Events to attend include class reunions, alumni events, fundraisers, conventions, professional conferences, volunteer opportunities, club meetings, and social gatherings.
- Conduct informational interviews with professionals.
- Use online social networks like LinkedIn.
- Have conversations everywhere you go. Everyone is a potential contact.
4. Follow Up!
- Always send a thank you note showing your appreciation.
- Keep your contacts updated regarding your job search.
- Consider connecting 2-3 times a year. Connections need regular attention!
- Have business cards with you at all times. Opportunities are everywhere.
- Join professional organizations in the career field you are pursing.
- Stay organized. Keep a record of your networking activities and the contacts that you’ve made.
- Don’t wait until you need a network to make contacts with people. Start today!