Build your Network
What is networking?
Networking is the process by which you gather and exchange information with contacts who can help you focus your career planning and develop a network to uncover the hidden job market. Network is not a readily available source for jobs but it is the relationships you develop that may lead you to a connection that becomes a job.
Most people think about networking when they are looking for a new job. It is unrealistic to think that simply talking to someone who didn't know you yesterday will hire you tomorrow. Remember, networking is not about getting a list of people and asking for a job, it is about people who might be an appropriate connection, then building a strong connection in order to access your desired information and advice, and that takes time. So if you are thinking about a new job, begin networking as soon as possible.
What does career networking look like:
Example 1: You want to move to Texas after graduation and are considering working for a pharmaceutical company. You get an email inviting you to the annual Houston Career Networking Event over winter break. At the event, you speak to three alums in the pharmaceutical industry and they, in turn, connect you with four more people. Through your conversations, you rework your resume, apply to several pharmaceutical companies in Texas, and successfully interview for several positions.
Example 2: You attend a lecture on campus about careers in finance. After the lecture, you approach the speaker and let him know how much you enjoyed his discussion of the challenges of financial advising. After a short conversation, the speaker offers you a business card and tells you to contact him if you’re ever interested in doing an internship with their company.
Informational interviews are a more formal process of networking. During an informational interview, you ask most of the questions and gain insights into their career field and your own job search. Sometimes they may connect you to other people in the same field.
Guidelines for networking
Identify your contacts
Identify the different people that might be able to help you. Relatives, friends of parents, neighbors, members of organizations that you participate in, supervisors, professors, and guest lecturers are great people that can help you expand your network.
Do your research
Once you have identified your contacts, make sure you research their company and field. Try not to waste their time by asking questions that you could have easily researched before your meeting.
Develop list of questions
Develop questions that will solicit information useful to you. You only have a limited amount of time, so prioritize which questions to ask.
Make first contact and schedule the interview
Your first interaction with potential contacts should always be to introduce yourself and ask if they have time to speak with you. From that point, your goal is to establish a relationship and ask for information, not a job.
Meeting and getting to know people who are willing to share with you career information and advice.
Like all good relationships, networking relationships are reciprocal and they serve to exchange information and advice.
Following up and maintaining contact with those who have assisted you.
Networking is NOT:
Asking for a job
Collecting business cards
Randomly passing out resumes
Using people for information you think they have.
Use networking as a means to:
Explore career opportunities
Learn more about a major, industry or company
Gather advice from different perspectives
Tap into the hidden job market
If you were stuck in the elevator with the CEO of your dream company, what would you say? This is where the term elevator pitch came from. The elevator pitch allows you in 30 seconds to tell someone who you are, why you are qualified, and what you can provide. An elevator pitch can be used while networking, at a career fair, in an airplane or to answer the interview question "tell me about yourself."