Networking: Making professional connections

There’s an old saying: “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” And while that oversimplifies the process of finding a job, it has proven to be relatively true. Networking is an important factor inside and outside of your career. The perfect time to start, if you haven’t already, is right now. It takes time and, in some cases, a certain amount of bravery, but it can pay off tremendously. 

Online

As a society, much of our communication has moved to a digital format. While having a résumé is important, employers use more resources than that to judge your character even before the first interview. LinkedIn is a good place to start. It allows to present your professional self, but it is not where employers stop. Your social media pages can help you, but they can also hurt you. Social media represents your life outside of the professional world, the way you think, your hobbies, and how you interact with people. Employers may use that to determine if you would be a good fit in the company. When employing someone, an employer looks for someone who can do the job. But equally important is finding someone that they wouldn’t mind seeing every day. This is where networking comes in.

In person

Networking using social media and other resources online has many of the same qualities as networking face-to-face, but in those interactions, there are a few things to remember. This time also includes first encounters with possible people that you can connect with.

Step one: Your look. From the top of your head to the soles of your feet you want to look like an employable person, especially when forming connections. It’s important to be yourself and embrace individuality, but look at what others in your profession are wearing.

Step two: Your work ethic. Why would someone want to employ you? Take all of your positive qualities and make that a framework of how you present yourself. Be on time and be a hard worker.

Step three: Everyone you meet is a possible connection, yes everyone. When you are searching for a job and when you first get one, it may be easy to find people like you, but more important is to talk to everyone that you can. Every person that you meet has their own network and that may help you get to where you want to go.

Never turn down an opportunity

While you’re in college there are multiple opportunities to make connections with people in the field you may be interested in. One of your opportunities to make connections is with your professors. You see them during class and their office hours are a chance to ask questions, but also to talk. Get to know them while you can!

Job and internship fairs give you a chance to meet people in your field and allow you to ask questions that you may have. It’s important to visit these early and often to learn more about a possible career, but also to make professional connections. To stay up to date on current events and upcoming job and career fair opportunities check with Service Learning and Career Development regularly both at their office in the Werner University Center and on their website.

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