Networking means making contacts, creating alliances, building support groups and befriending other people with similar professional interests. This process is an important part of your career development and may ultimately net you a job.
How can you use a network?
Suggested Networking Resources:
- People you know through clubs, sports teams or other community activities
- Former employers, internship supervisors, volunteer work coordinators, coaches and school administrators
- Friends, relatives, parents of friends, acquaintances, professors, alumni
- Professional and social organizations
In addition to your immediate career objectives, you should also be thinking about career goals. You do not necessarily have to know exactly where you want to be five years after graduation, but you should have a general picture of an occupational interest for the next few years.
1. Develop a List of Contacts
Networking resources include friends, relatives, and acquaintances. Consider the people you know through your participation in club or community activities, your membership on sports teams, and even your interaction in the neighborhood. Associations with parents of your friends, coaches, school administrators, and people working in your community have already provided you with network potential. Then examine ways to expand or increase your networks.
One way students develop a network is by soliciting assistance from professors, who often can provide valuable career information. Another resource could be alumni of the university. Former employers, internship supervisors, or volunteer work coordinators can supply information and other network sources. Additional networks exist through membership in professional and social organizations.
2. Prepare for the Networking Opportunity
You will want to decide what you would like to learn about a particular position or industry before you begin networking and assess what you have to offer an employer. Prepare a resume that summarizes your qualifications and have it reviewed by Career Services. Prepare questions ahead of time for use in formal networking sessions. For informal situations, prepare a one-minute introduction, or self-marketing statement, and incorporate several key conversation points on which you would like to elaborate if the opportunity should present itself.
3. While You are Networking
As you network be sure to be explicit about your purpose - to obtain information, not a job. Discuss your qualifications, but focus on the information received from the contact. Make sure you ask clear question and are courteous and concise. If you have a personal business card you can distribute them but be selective. You may want to ask for additional referrals. Be sure to have a copy of your resume available in the event it is requested.
4. After the Networking Session
Always follow up promptly with a thank-you note. You should maintain records about all of your contacts and with people in your network.
Successful networking requires determination, assertiveness, organization, discipline, and record keeping. As you progress through your academic and professional careers, your long- and short-term goals will change. These changing goals will determine the people you should seek out.
Networking is an activity that can assist you throughout your life. It is a give-and-take arrangement. Keep in mind your responsibility to contribute to your network by offering assistance to those who follow you or, in some cases, those who preceded you.
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