You may have learned, “it’s not what you know, but who you know.” This age-old saying is and will continue to be relevant for professionals in any industry. Networking, or generating productive, professional relationships, can allow you to accelerate your job search. Lou Adler, CEO of the Adler Group, conducted in-depth research and analysis about the practice and determined networking is the largest source of new jobs with approximately 85 percent of individuals securing a position using this technique. If you spend time developing these professional relationships, you have the potential to reap the rewards and be hired in your desired field. Here are four useful tips about networking and three actions you should avoid:

Utilize personal, primary connections

Primary connections include family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, professors, and supervisors. By reaching out to individuals you know personally, you have the potential to add to your network and obtain secondary connections. These individuals can also provide you with more than just job leads. They may be willing to provide inside information on companies; names of individuals, recruiters and hiring managers; industry information; as well as other career options.

Arrange informational interviews

An informational interview is often overlooked, perhaps because they are misunderstood. Informational interviews serve as an effective research tool and can provide you with a greater understanding of a position, company, or industry. After arranging the meeting, provide your interviewee with a brief summary of your career goals before engaging in a casual conversation. It is recommended that you prepare various questions to make good use of their time.

Create profiles on professional networking websites

The social media you use during your job search should be positioned to represent you as a potential employee of a professional organization. After uploading a headshot and completing your profile, request to connect with professionals you’ve worked with. Whether you know these individuals from internships, past positions, or volunteer efforts, connecting allows you to leverage your network and enhance your professional presence online.

Serve in your community

A productive way to build relationships and gain relevant experience is through service. By volunteering with community organizations that match your passions and career goals, you have the opportunity to meet and connect with professionals with similar interests. Community service and volunteer work allow you to go beyond your field; with a broad network, you can also help connect people across industries.

Three Things to Avoid While Networking

Being unprepared

Networking should never be an afterthought. If you plan to attend a career development or professional event, preparation is imperative. Formulate your elevator speech. This brief, persuasive pitch allows you to explain your experience, share your academic and professional achievements, and your intended goals within 30-60 seconds. If your elevator speech is successful, there is a potential for deeper dialogue. It may be helpful to develop at least three questions that can be adapted to various industries to steer the conversation.

Talking about yourself – and only yourself

Others appreciate reciprocity and meaningful conversation. Talking about your education, your professional success, and your goals can turn people off. It is expected that you remain confident and conversational while networking; be sure to engage others and show interest in their experiences as well. Communicate in a warm and sincere way by learning people’s names, making eye contact, and listening intently.

Forgetting to follow up

The number one rule of networking is to stay in touch. Following up with a new network connection is similar to following up after an interview; a timely turnaround demonstrates your interest in maintaining a connection. Let the other party know that you appreciate the time they gave you and the information they shared.

By networking, you are investing in yourself as well as your future. Taking advantage of these tips can help you solidify a strong professional network and create endless opportunities. Soon enough, you will master the art of networking. Good luck!

For more tips and advice on how to network, contact our Career Services office at