Networking

What is networking?

A dynamic deliberate process of exchanging information or resources and developing mutually beneficial relationships for the purpose of obtaining information and services among individuals and groups having a common interest.

Effective Networking is a combination of what you know, who you know, who knows you, and how effectively you use both to learn about new opportunities, make new contacts, and connect with potential employers.

Employers prefer to hire from referrals rather than outside candidates with no connection to the company. Personal contact is the single most effective way to get a job. You'll get the competitive edge by being referred directly to employers. What do you think works better? The employer going through a stack of resumes or getting a phone call from a trusted friend telling him/her that he knows this person and he thinks they would be great for the company?

Why should I network as part of my job search?

75% - 90% of jobs are part of the “Hidden Job Market” so networking may be the only way to learn of these job opportunities.

Networking allows you to:

  • Develop professional relationships and meet new people
  • Expand and increase your resources
  • Learn more about a specific career
  • Connect with individuals within your career field of interest
  • Build experience and confidence
  • Establish connections to obtain a job or internship (most of which are not publically posted)

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70 percent of jobs are found through networking!

Networking Basics

  1. Leave no stone unturned
  2. Be resume ready
  3. Start Close to home

Who do you already know?
Seize every opportunity to publicize your job search: clubs, professional organizations members, volunteer contacts, merchants, civic leaders, neighbors, classmates, former classmates, school alumni, teacher/professors, coaches, coworkers former coworkers, bosses, friends’ bosses, religious affiliation members even the cab driver, everyone!

  • Make a list of people you know
  • Keep a record of your contacts
  • Find a reason to call

Develop Your Elevator Pitch/Speech

What is an Elevator Speech?

  • A quick way to sell yourself when making introductions
  • Sets the stage for why someone would be interested in learning more about you
  • Can be used in a variety of settings
    • Professional Conferences
    • Career Fairs
    • Informational Interview Requests
    • Informal Social Events
    • Anywhere…
  • Goal is for the elevator speech to lead into further conversation
    • This could happen on the spot if there is time or in the future with a business card exchange and follow up email or phone call. Click on the following link  to view the Elevator Speech Guide: Elevator Speech

A strong Elevator Pitch should…

  • Begin with an indication of who you are and a characteristic that will set you apart from your cohort (e.g., Do you know someone affiliated with this person or organization?, Have you worked for a prestigious company?, Do you have a strong academic background?)
  • Contain the purpose of the conversation
  • Showcase the research you have done on the company
  • Feature your accomplishments and qualifications

Top 11 Networking Tips

  1. Set Your Goals: Before the event, clarify and write down for yourself what you have to OFFER (information, resources, expertise) and what you want to GET (introductions, resources, leads, information).
  2. Do Your Homework: If it is possible to learn who will be attending the event beforehand, research the people you’d like to meet and plan your strategy.
  3. Firm Handshake: Make the first five seconds count.
  4. Introduce Yourself: Describe what you do best, be interesting, and be brief! Keep it to a couple of sentences; details about skills and experiences can be added as the conversation develops.
  5.  Prepare Conversation Starters: Tailor your starters to the specific event/industry or general topics of mutual interest.  
  6. Act Like a Host: Look for someone standing alone, introduce yourself first.
  7. Keep it Short: Five to eight minutes per conversation.
  8. Card Exchange: Ask for a business card as you conclude a conversation. Write reminder notes on back of card to help with follow up.
  9. Graceful Exits: “It’s been a pleasure talking to you.”
  10. Follow up: Write thank you notes to those who offered helpful information or resources, preferably within 24 hours. Handwritten U.S. Mail will stand out, but some may prefer email. If you offered to provide information or resources to others, do it now.
  11. Reciprocal Relationship: Frame networking as a reciprocal relationship in your mind and in your communications: “Please let me know how I can help you.”

Other Important Tips

Handshakes
Dress for Success
Making Eye Contact