The Ins and Outs of Networking

What Networking Is

  • Supplement to traditional job searching methods
  • Communication of your interests, skills and abilities to individuals in your network (who refer you to other individuals who might be interested in giving you more advice and referrals)
  • Connecting with others and building and nurturing relationships

What Networking Is Not

  • It is not asking for a job from someone you know (although that may be your ulterior motive)
  • It is not talking to people, using them for their knowledge and never speaking to them again
  • It is not just collecting business cards and calling people to ask for more contacts
  • It does not have to be intimidating

Why Network?

  • The large majority of open jobs are never advertised. Companies prefer to fill positions with candidates already within their organizations, or ones recommended by employees. This is particularly true the higher up the career ladder you go.
  • When there are hundreds of people competing for one position, knowing the right person can make all the difference. With a little luck, someone you know (or someone you meet) may be the key to finding and landing the perfect job. They can offer advice and information, provide introductions and share news of opportunities.
  • You never know who you will meet (you could be sitting next to your future boss on an airplane).
  • Meeting new people can be fun and beneficial.

How Do You Network?

  • Think of everyone you know and make sure they all know about your needs.
  • Find common ground (fellow alums, from the same town, mutual friends).
  • Figure out what you can offer them, not just what they can do for you.
  • Be prepared when you approach them to introduce yourself.
  • Determine the most appropriate method of communication.
  • Ask for advice from your network. People are usually comfortable telling you the story of their success.
  • Ask them to proofread your resume. They may be so impressed that they forward it to their friends and colleagues.
  • Be organized. Catalog names and contact information, personal and professional details about them and history of your interactions with them.
  • Make it a point to stay in touch (and track it when you do).

Who Is In Your Network?

  • Friends and Family
  • High School Classmates, Principals and Teachers
  • College Alumni and Professors
  • Members of Professional Organizations, Fraternities and Sororities
  • Social and Sports Club Attendees
  • Doctor, Dentist, Ophthalmologist or Coach
  • Insurance agent, next-door neighbor, hairdresser/barber, bank teller
  • There are lots more, so be creative!

Where Do You Network?

When Do You Network?

  • Don’t be afraid to schmooze in any situation; just be sure to take into consideration that the person may be there to do anything but talk about their work.
  • Don’t be overly aggressive.
  • Even at conferences, symposiums and academic workshops, remember that you are there to attend the sessions and not just network.
  • Conduct informational interviews. Let the person know you are researching the industry, and that you just need information and advice.
  • Be honest, sincere and professional as you work with the person (make them feel at ease with you).

Secrets to Networking Success

  • When someone gives you a name to contact, be sure to follow up and make the contact even if you feel that it is not going to be beneficial.
  • Find a trait or opinion in common with someone you’re speaking with and they will be inclined to like you better.
  • Smile. (But in order to be effective, the smile has to be genuine and appropriate.)
  • Always keep resumes or business/networking cards on hand, in case you run into a potential new job contact.

Network Etiquette

  • If a contact assists you directly, or gets you in touch with someone who can get you in the door with a company, do something to thank them. Even if it’s just a simple note of appreciation, it will be very well received.
  • There will come a time when a network contact will need something from you; it’s a reciprocal relationship. If you say you are going to do something for someone, don’t let them down.
  • Never burn bridges; it will come back to haunt you.
  • It’s never too late! Don’t hesitate to look up old friends and acquaintances to reconnect.
  • If you remember someone, there’s a good chance they’ll remember you too.
  • Remind long lost contacts of how you are acquainted or what common ground you had.
  • Stay in touch this time! Even after you’ve landed a great new job, you never know when you may need to draw on your network again.