Simply stated, networking is relationship building. It is the process of making connections with people in order to gather information and expand your knowledge about a job, internship, career field, graduate school, and/or geographical areas.
The purpose of a network is to develop a professional support system to help you as you grow as a professional, which in turn, can help you support others in the future. It can also assist you in collecting information and resources about the job market and occupations, as well as develop job leads and referrals.
Making contacts with people can help you find a job, as most employers would rather hire someone they know or someone who was recommended by an acquaintance. Developing and maintaining positive rapport with others is an essential component of any successful internship or career search.
There are many ways to network; on this page you’ll find information about two significant sources for networking:
- Informational Interviewing
- Social Media
One of the most effective ways to meet people in a professional field and gather information about what’s happening in an occupation or an industry is to conduct an informational interview. An informational interview is a networking approach that allows you to meet key professionals, gather career information, investigate career options, get advice on job search techniques and get referrals to other professionals.
There are many good reasons to conduct an informational interview:
- to explore careers and clarify your career goal
- to discover employment opportunities that are not advertised
- to expand your professional network
- to build confidence for your job interviews
- to access the most up-to-date career information
- to identify your professional strengths and weaknesses
Most professionals are happy to help students with their professional pursuits, but you have to ask the right questions in the right way. The art of informational interviewing is in knowing how to balance your hidden agenda (to locate an internship or job) with the unique opportunity to learn firsthand about your chosen field. Never ask for a job, but behave respectfully and professionally, and a job may follow.
You can find more information about how to conduct an informational interview, and suggested questions to ask by reading our informational interview packet.
Why add social media as a job search strategy? According to a recent Jobvite survey, 92 percent of U.S. companies used social media to find talent — and according to NACE’s Student Survey only 41 percent of recent college grads are using social media to look for a job.
Social media can be a great tool to advance your career. In particular, it can be leveraged to find jobs and internships. With the recent explosion of social media, many companies use Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and blogs in their process of finding new talent. Likewise, job seekers can use social media to highlight their skills and stand out from other candidates.
Connect with the SLCD via social media: