What is networking?
The art of networking is part of a proactive approach. To clarify networking is not nepotism (i.e. getting a job because of who you are rather than what you are).
It is a system of identifying those who can give you information and advice to help you increase your knowledge, make good quality decisions and possibly source opportunities. Think of Linked-In
We all have a network….we just don’t think often enough about who they are. Think of your hairdresser, your barber, your grocery store clerks, your cousins, your friends, and friends of your friends. Most people are willing to help if they can.
How can networking help?
It’s much easier to know how an industry or profession works when you’re on the inside. Networking allows you to benefit from an inside view (and often varied experiences) from the outside!
Asking for advice on your resume; finding out who the experts are in your field; identifying any gaps in your skills or experience; knowing how post-grad qualifications are viewed; finding out when and where vacancies are advertised; getting a chance to work shadow; learning what might come up at interview – all of this, and more, is available if you use your network and ask the right people.
Who is in your network?
Friends and family….and friends’ families and families’ friends (think about it!) Are they doing or have they done jobs which interest you? Do they work for organizations which appeal to you? Have they positive/negative points of view to inform your decisions?
Academic staff – not just lecturers -postgraduate students may also be able to offer help and insights. Is there a teacher with whom you had a good relationship?
Personal contacts – from work placements, vacation and term time jobs or voluntary projects, people who are members of groups you belong to such as Rotary or Toastmasters, a Writer’s group, etc.
Professional Associations – are you a student member of a professional association. Often you get discounts on training or meetings. Is information on job opportunities sent to you? Do you attend seminars or forums -places where you can meet those working in the field you are interested in?
Local Contacts and Alumni – Often the Careers Service office has information on professionals living and working locally who have volunteered to provide information and advice to students interested in their area of work. Take advantage of any alumni events its a great chance to meet people
Constructing your own network
Start constructing your own network. Write down the people in your life who may be able to help. Think freely!
Keep your network up to date , adding and subtracting names as life moves on. And remember to thank the people who help you and keep them informed of your progress…maybe you’ll be able to return the favour one day.
So who are you going to contact first?
Use the telephone to contact friends and acquaintances outside of your area. You do not need to be formal, but do keep calls brief and ask specific questions. Do not take up their time by soliciting help in an unstructured way. Follow these guidelines when calling your friends.
- Explain that you are looking for a new job and would appreciate their advice
- Briefly review your goals, special skills and work experience
- Give your “Thirty-Second Summary,” if your friend is not aware of your work history
- Ask for names of people or organizations that may have openings in your area of expertise or names of people who could give you more information on a specific career you are interested in
- Ask if you can use their name as you contact others
- Be positive and express confidence that something will turn up
- Thank them for their time, mention you will send a resume, and ask if you can call again
If you are going to set up an appointment to meet, here is a tip I got from a sales person many years ago – ask for 15 minutes on the quarter hour, e.g. 10:15 It sets up a thought in the person’s mind that it will only take 15 minutes. If you say 10:30, that sets up a thought that it will take half an hour.
To your networking success