Networking is a great way to build your web of contacts that can help support you on your professional development journey. Networking does not come easily for everyone, and for many, it requires breaking out of one’s comfort zone. New to networking? We can help!
The action of meeting new people and speaking with others both inside and outside of your normal social circle. Networking is not only a conversation with an exchange of information, it’s the creation of a professional relationship that needs to continue to be fostered in order to mutually benefit one another.
What can you learn by networking?
- Industry information and current events
- Information about a specific employer of interest
- Advice on courses, student organizations, and other experiences that can help you be successful in the workplace
- Hiring cycles, open positions, and workplace culture
Points to Remember
- Listen just as much as you talk; value what the other person has to say
- Networking does not directly land you the position of your dreams
- All connections matter. Someone always knows someone that can be of assistance to you
- Utilize professional speech and body language. Shake hands, make eye contact, and dress professionally
You may already have a large professional network and not even know it! Does your roommate’s parent work for a law firm that you have always admired? Do you hear a professor speak highly of their time as a nurse at a renowned local hospital? If so, your professional network is already under way! Continue brainstorming using the worksheet below!
- It’s all about your attitude! Don’t think of yourself as someone who is in need of a job; rather, be interested in learning about new people or organizations. Be a personable human being first, then a talented person looking for a job.
- Smile and reach out to shake hands as you approach each new person. Introduce yourself and start out with a friendly question such as “What brings you here?”
- If you are wearing a name tag, place it on your right side, so that when somebody shakes your hand, it is easier to read.
- After learning a new contact’s name, try to use it in your conversation by saying it at the end of a question you ask them. It will be easier to remember if you use it a few times throughout your conversation.
- Come prepared with 2-3 relevant topics to talk about.
- Show an interest in the other person. Ask questions such as, “How did you get started at this company or in the field?” Where did you go to college? Major?”
- Listen for cues of how you can help the person and make a connection.
An informational interview is an informal conversation and Q&A between you and the employee of a desired company or field of industry. It can help you understand how the field is doing, tips on how to search for a career in the field, learn the daily tasks of the job, and other detailed information about that position or field.