Building A Strong Network
New college graduates looking for their first job will find greater success if they have a network of relationships with an extensive and diverse group of contacts. Since over 80 percent of jobs go unadvertised, networking can be one of the most effective means of uncovering hidden career opportunities. Networking is simply the process of making contacts and building relationships that can help you obtain leads, referrals, advice, information, and support.
How do I get started?
- Make it a habit to find out about people, be curious, take a genuine interest in others.
- Think of networking as meeting people, learning about them, and making conversation.
- You only need to know one person to begin the process of networking.
- Utilize LinkedIn, and/or other professional networking social media sites.
Building your list
Consider these sources (and others!) for networking contacts.
- Parents, relatives
- Fraternity/sorority alumni
- Current and former employers
- Professional organizations
- Past and present co-workers
- Religious community
- Online communities
- Get to know your professors and fellow students and get involved in organizations and activities.
- If you have a job, establish a good relationship with your boss and co-workers.
- Establish a system for gathering and keeping contact information for future use (Blackberry, iPhone, PDA, spreadsheet, paper address book, etc.).
- Set up a free LinkedIn account and join groups related to your career interest.
- Narrow down your career goals by conducting informational interviews.
- Continue to forge ties with your professors, co-workers, managers, and other students and add them to your LinkedIn contacts.
- Land a summer internship.
- If your career goal is well defined, consider joining a professional organization on campus.
- Meet with a career counselor on campus to brainstorm.
- If you have not done so, develop a résumé, and ask your networking contacts to critique it.
- Make a list of employers you would like to work for and start thinking about who you know that can help you get your foot in the door. Follow these employers on LinkedIn and identify alumni contacts in them.
- Step up the pace on informational interviews, set a goal of one or two per month.
- Create a networking card (a personal business card to give to individuals that you meet along the way).
- Stay active in student clubs and professional organizations.
- Get an internship and establish relationships with as many people as possible at your internship workplace.
- Join a professional (not student) organization in the field of your choice and get active.
- Re-contact everyone on your list and let them know about your job search.
- Now is the time for all of your effort to pay off!
- Thank everyone who helps you with a written follow-up, and keep anyone who is interested posted on your progress.
- Members of your network are not necessarily hiring managers, they are anyone who can give you valuable information, career advice, and referrals to the people who do the hiring.
- Find ways to keep in touch with people in your network.
- Send holiday and birthday cards, and articles of interest.
- Follow up and keep track.
By learning the art of making casual conversation, you can find out an individual's current situation, what they do, what you have in common, how you may be able to help them, and something that may help you.