As you think about heading back to campus, think about building your network of connections.
Networking is an information exchange between you and another person. It involves establishing relationships with people who can help you advance your career goals.
The word “networking” can have negative connotations, but if you engage in the activity with genuine desire to know the person and LISTEN, then networking is a great way to make meaningful connections.
Why should you network?
Some advantages are that you get:
- “Inside information” on what’s happening in your field of interest, such as an organization’s plans to expand operations or release a new product.
- Job search advice specific to your field of interest.
- Tips on job search tools (for example, how to enhance your resume and/or portfolio).
- Names of people to contact about possible employment or informational interviews.
- Follow-up interview and a possible job offer.
Who is in your network?
You know, more people than you think! Expand who you THINK is in your community:
- Family, friends, teachers, and staff at your school, alumni, past and present co-workers of your family, neighbors, club and organization members, church, and other religious group affiliations.
What should you expect?
That you will:
- Not dismiss anyone as irrelevant: Six degrees of connection — you do not know who may be of help to you.
- Expect nothing: Learn about the people/companies that interest you — their mission and how you can be of value to them.
- Not leave it to chance: Be proactive and make a list of people/companies you would like to learn more about.
How do you start?
Be brief and to the point:
- People are busy. Acknowledge from the start by saying something like —
“Hi. I have something that I’d like to briefly discuss with you. It should only take a few minutes. Do you have time now?”
Asking questions not only shows that you respect their time, but it also gives you the option of speaking with them later if they are busy.
Don’t take “no” personally:
- It is a matter of timing. If you catch someone on a good day, they may talk or meet with you. In most cases, it is not a reflection of what you’ve said.
- A couple of days after meeting someone for the first time, follow up with a brief email or note. It is an opportunity to anchor your previous interaction and showcase your unique personality.
If you fail, try reaching out in a different way:
- You don’t want to pester anyone, but if in a few weeks you don’t get a response, reach out again. For example, dropping in to talk face to face with people that did not respond to your emails may result in a different outcome.
Be prepared, and you will learn about careers and enjoy connecting with people!