What is Networking?

Networking is one of the most important career-related and job search strategies. Networking means talking to people and developing relationships with them. It is an important part of your job search and can be as simple as an informal chat with a neighbor, to a formal meeting with an individual at an organization. Networking allows you to develop new contacts and grow your connections.

  • Building and maintaining relationships
  • Connecting to job and/or business communities
  • Exchanging advice, information, referrals, and support
  • Connecting to people who may have what you want, know others who do, or play a role in the hiring decision.
Why Network?

The majority of positions are not filled through posted advertisements but are typically filled through word of mouth and people known to hiring managers through their network of contacts. Networking increases the number of people who are aware of your job search and increases your chances of hearing about these unadvertised positions. Networking also helps you gain valuable information about an industry and/or specific occupation.

Effective Networking Tips

Networking is a process of developing and nurturing relationships with others:

  • Seek advice and information
  • Find ways to stay in touch with your contacts
  • Think of ways you can help the other person
  • Gradually expand your network by asking those you meet for introductions to other people
How to Start Networking

Most people don’t relish the idea of going to events or approaching strangers in hopes of finding a job. Start with the people you know:

  • Speak to friends, family, professors and co-workers and those you have met through involvement in the community
  • Attend career events on campus, including employer information sessions, career fairs and panels
  • Get involved on campus – Join a club, organization, or academic society on campus, go on an alternative break service learning trip
  • Sign up for student memberships of professional associations and attend their events
  • Find contacts in your preferred industry or business sector and make an appointment to meet with them
  • Be prepared, able to articulate the skills you have, know what you want and do your research before meeting with a new contact or attending a networking event
How to Make the Most out of Networking at an Event
  • Be prepared to initiate conversation, but plan to spend more time listening than talking
  • Remember this is a conversation to share information and advice, not a job interview
  • Ask specific questions, but allow for spontaneous discussion
  • Take notes on important information
  • Talk to someone you had not planned to –this could be someone with a different academic background or someone doing a job you’ve never considered
  • Enjoy yourself and have fun –networking doesn’t have to be awkward!
Before Leaving a Conversation, Don't Forget to:
  • Thank the person for their time and advice
  • Write down any contact information or follow-up items you discussed
  • Get permission to use the individual’s name when contacting anyone they recommended
Sample Networking Questions

About the Person

  • What is your educational background? How did you get started in this field?
  • What was your career path like? How did you get your present job?
  • How did you know where to start looking and what steps you needed to take?
  • What would you change about your career path if you could?
  • Where do you see yourself going from here?

About their Current Job/Organization

  • What does a typical day at work look like for you?
  • What are some of the problems and decisions you are likely to face in a day or week?
  • What are the specific skills needed to do your job well?
  • What are the greatest rewards and challenges of your job? What is most and least satisfying?
  • What is something you wish you could change about your job?
  • How has your position changed during the current situation with COVID-19?
  • How did you decide to work for this organization?
  • What do you like most about this organization? What is the company culture like?
  • What are some skills that have proven important in your job that you did not anticipate?

Job Search Tips

  • Is there anything that you would recommend doing in my undergrad that would better position me for a job in your field?
  • What tips do you have for standing out during the job search?
  • Do you use LinkedIn and how?
  • If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?

Career Advancement

  • What are the best ways to ensure that you are growing on the job?
  • How well did your university experience prepare you for this job?
  • Which academic and extracurricular activities did you find most beneficial for finding your first job?
  • What were the keys to your career advancement? What helped you the most to get to where you are?
  • What is a typical career path in your field?

About the Career Field and Industry:

  • What kind of skills and prior experiences would be good background for someone starting out?
  • What other career areas do you feel are related to your work?
  • What do you wish you would have known prior to entering this field?
  • What is the job outlook in this career area? Has COVID-19 affected it in any way?
  • What are some trends or legislation affecting your field that I should know about?
  • If you could do it all over again, would you choose the same path for yourself? Why/why not?

Advice to You:

  • What skills or experiences will I need to develop to make myself more competitive?
  • What professional associations or organizations should I know about?
  • What advice do you have for me as I try to break into this field?
  • Are there people you think I would benefit from talking to? Can I use your name when I contact them?
  • If I have any questions could I stay in contact with you? What is your preferred method of contact?

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