Networking can help you begin and, over time, advance your career. In its simplest sense, networking is simply the act of developing and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships over the course of your career. It doesn’t have to feel icky!
Entry level positions can be hard to find right out of university, and research shows that up to 80% of jobs are never posted. Networking helps you access this hidden job market.
To start networking, share your career goals (in detail!) with the people you already know. These individuals can’t and won’t help you if they don’t understand fully what type of work you’re looking for, so be very clear. And remember that each of the people you know have many other connections. They will talk to these connections on your behalf, if they understand and can communicate your interests.
Consider that all of the following are part of your existing network:
· Family, friends, roommates
· Fellow students and alumni
· Co-workers, past and present
· Fellow volunteers
· Club and association members
· People you see regularly at the gym, the local coffee shop, or other places you frequent
If you’re shy and have difficulty starting or maintaining a conversation, this article provides ten excellent conversation starters, whether you’re networking informally at a party or at a professional event.
Information interviews are first and foremost a research tool – a way for you to find useful and specific career/occupational information that you could not find in books or on the internet. However, they’re also a great way to meet people virtually or in-person and add to your network. This first video answers all the why’s and how-to’s of information interviews, and the second video will give you a sense of the benefits of information interviews, and how they’re scheduled and conducted.
You can use social media platforms to network, including Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. This is an excellent video which highlights the do’s and don’ts of making contact on LinkedIn.
Going to a networking event can be intimidating. But if you understand the structure of them and the etiquette behind them, you’ll know exactly how to handle them well. This video shares tips on how to handle your first networking event.
In-depth company and industry research are important pieces of information that you can gain from an information interview. Inside information on companies and industries can help you write a very effective, customized resume and cover letter, and can help you stand out from the competition. Platforms that collect both official and user-contributed information like Glassdoor and LinkedIn, and conducting information interviews (see above), are helpful!