Networking is the best way to find a job or internship.
According to a recent survey of the Department of Labor, networking accounts for at least 69% of all annual hires.
Networking is a continuous process. Throughout your life, you will make networking contacts that develop into relationships — you’ll become friends, colleagues, and professional prospects.
When you’re networking, always look for the next step in gaining information about your field. When casually networking, ask for an informational interview.
To learn more and to begin the networking process, schedule an appointment via Handshake with the Boerigter Center.
How Do I Start?
Most networking begins through casual conversation. Strike up a conversation with the people you meet in your normal routine — you never know who may have an aunt or a brother or a colleague in your field.
The Boerigter Center helps students by:
- Matching students to alumni
- Hosting career panels and networking events with professionals
- Traveling to popular cities for students to network
- Connecting students to alumni for job shadowing and career exploration
- START TO FINISH
THE FIRST IMPRESSION
- Introduce yourself and establish rapport
- Ask questions to learn about the person you meet
- Create a connection between the two of you (“it sounds like we have a lot of the same ideas about our fields of interest”)
- Wrap up the conversation with a promise to keep in touch, then follow up
THE IMPORTANCE OF FOLLOWING UP
- The #1 rule of networking is to stay in touch
- Write a brief note to those you meet
- Follow up when you say you will
- Keep track of your correspondence with each person in your network, including:
- Dates and details of messages and conversations
- Questions and answers from information interviews
- Notes from office visits
- Dates you have agreed to follow up
- DO’S & DON’TS
- Wear something with pockets or carry a small bag so you have a place to stow business cards
- Jot notes in a small notebook
- Create and bring your own business cards
- Keep one hand free at all times to shake hands with people you meet
- Dress professional, sharp and modest
- Thank your network partners and keep in touch with them
- Develop lasting relationships, not just contacts
- Look for ways to help the people in your network
- Ask two important questions: “What’s your story?” and “What advice would you have for me as I consider entering this field?”
- Brag or exaggerate the truth in your conversations
- Spend too much time in unfocused conversation; respect and appreciate their time
- Gossip or share inappropriately; stay professional and relevant
- Allow your networking relationship to become one-sided
- Ask personal questions or about money/salary
- Even think about asking for a job
- HOW IS INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEWING DIFFERENT FROM NETWORKING?
Informational interviewing is a piece of the networking process. An informational interview allows you to explore your field of interest through a structured, longer conversation with someone already working in that field.
Sometimes the phrase “informational interviewing” may sound uninviting to your contacts, as it sounds very similar to an “interview” for an employment position. You may wish to ask for an “information meeting” instead.
Remember to use the informational interview as an opportunity to gather information and seek advice, not to ask outright for an internship or employment opportunity. It is often appropriate, however, to ask the person you speak with for advice on ways you might pursue employment or internship opportunities in your field of interest and give specifics about your search.
Before you jump into this valuable exercise, you will need to have a solid understanding of who you are (self-assessment) and a basic understanding of your fields of interest (career exploration) in order to answer questions from the professionals you meet. If you have not explored these issues, schedule an appointment via Handshake to begin this process.
ARRANGING YOUR MEETINGS
- Compile a list of open-ended questions
- Arrange a meeting at a convenient location and time, preferably at his or her office
- If you’re meeting in a public place, give an appropriate description of yourself so he or she can find you
- A phone conversation is also appropriate (if you’re in differing time zones, make sure you both have clarity on the time)
DURING & AFTER
- Be prepared when you meet. You may want to prioritize your list of questions — start with a topic that is easy to discuss and build rapport.
- Remember to listen! Avoid interrupting the speaker.
- Take brief notes during the conversation.
- Give the professional the opportunity to ask you questions at the end of the conversation.
- After the meeting, send a note thanking the professional for setting aside time to meet. Mention one or two things that really stood out as valuable information that you gained.
- SAMPLE QUESTIONS
- How would you describe your current role and professional journey?
- What advice would you have for me as I consider entering the field?
- What skills are required in your position on a day-to-day basis?
- What part of your job is most challenging?
- What do you find most enjoyable?
- Which seasons of the year are busiest in your job?
- Does the work involve frequent travel or late nights?
STATE OF THE INDUSTRY
- Is this field growing?
- What developments, new technology, etc., could affect future opportunities?
- Why do people leave this field?
- Who are the most important people in the industry today?
- How does your company compare to others in the same industry?
MONEY & ADVANCEMENT
- What do you think is the earning potential for this field?
- How, and how often, are people in this field promoted?
- What is the background of most senior-level executives?
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