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Network, network, network is a common terminology used in job searching, or more importantly even before you start job searching. Networking may seem daunting to some and for others, a way of life and very easy.
What is Networking?
Networking involves making connections and maintaining relationships with people. Your network of contacts may help you to find rewarding opportunities, develop your skills, achieve your goals, help you with best practices in your current position, and act as a referral source.
Here are a few steps you can take:
- Make your passions and goals known to others and ask for guidance or referrals.
- Connect with other alumni through social and professional networking sites including Meet Up, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Handshake.
- Put yourself out there and meet new people at events and leisure activities.
- Make yourself known by actively getting involved at your organization or with professional associations related to your field.
- Build relationships and gain relevant experience by volunteering with organizations that match your passions and career goals.
- Stay in touch with former supervisors and colleagues.
- Arrange informational interviews with professionals in your field of interest.
You are always invited to attend networking events with employers that Career Services hosts on campus. Please check our Calendar of Events for the most up-to-date list. You can easily RSVP for many of them through your Handshake account.
- Prepare an "elevator speech." When introducing yourself, be prepared to share your professional achievements and intended goals within 30 – 60 seconds.
- Communicate in a warm and sincere way. Learn people’s names, make eye contact, and listen intently.
- Follow through with referrals and always thank your contacts in writing for their time and assistance.
- Speak passionately about your interests and accomplishments.
- Look for ways that you and your contacts can help each other and build a reputation of being a resource for others.
- Create a system for tracking contact information and notes.
- Manage your online image and be cautious about what employers might find.
- Your professional and personal brand should be reflected in your networking.
Tips for Networking as an Introvert
Being an introvert does NOT mean you don't have social skills. However, it does mean that being around lots of people at one time can be draining. Here are the top 10 networking tips for introverts:
- Join the crowd. If people seem to be congregating in one area, join them and strike up a conversation.
- Set reasonable expectations. When attending an event, prep yourself mentally for what you are there to do. Is your goal to meet more people? Is it to learn more about the organization's culture? Is it to meet one or two specific people? Make sure you set reasonable expectations beforehand so that you have a goal in mind. It is a great way to keep you from getting overwhelmed, too.
- Start a conversation with a loner. It's usually easier to start a conversation with someone who is standing alone, because they will most likely be happy to have someone to talk to—and as a result, are often more personable and easier to connect with.
- Avoid barging into groups. A cluster of more than four people can be awkward—and tough to enter. Join the group on one side, but don't try to enter the conversation until you've made eye contact with each person at least one time. Usually, people will make room to add you to the "circle" of conversation and you can introduce yourself then.
- "Look mom, no hands!" Keep at least one hand free at all times. This means no eating and drinking at the same time if you are at a networking mixer or conference reception. This way, you can still shake hands with people without being awkward and fumbling around.
- Be yourself. Networking events are meant as starting points for professional relationships. If you can't be yourself and you aren't comfortable in your own skin, then the people you meet will be connecting with someone you're impersonating instead of the real you. Be genuine. Authenticity tends to attract much of the same.
- Be present and engaged. Ever talked to someone that acts like you're the only person in the room? Someone who listens and makes you feel like everything you are saying is important? They really make you feel heard. Keep eye contact and lean in or tilt your body towards people when you talk to them. Not in a creepy way, but in a "I'm listening to you and I'm fully present" kind of way.
- Follow the 72 hour rule. After a conference or networking event, you have about 72 hours to follow up with a person on LinkedIn or via e-mail. Reference something that you talked about and ask what the best way to stay connected might be. After 72 hours, they just might have forgotten you.
- Practice makes perfect. Well, not really perfect. Progress is always better than perfection. The point here is that networking is a skill, like any other professional skill. It is a muscle that you have to develop and grow. While others may look like born networkers, they are more than likely just more experienced with it. Mistakes may happen, but the only way to learn is to get out there and do it.
(Courtesy of the National Association of College Employers)
Bring Your Resume
Have an updated resume at hand, as you never know when an opportunity will arise. To get some ideas, consider this well-organized resume. There are many different types of resumes. Resumes for experienced professionals, resumes for recent graduates, functional resumes, chronological resumes, skills-based resumes, ASCII text resumes, video resumes, infographic resumes and more; however, there is no one resume that is right or wrong. It is more about, which one is going to work best for you personally, professionally and for you to reach your career goals and speaks to your professional brand. You will need to create a number of different types of resumes and customize it to the position you are applying for. Remember that your resume is a working document that will change.