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Network Your Way to the Job or Internship You WantLearning how to network, to build and create connections, is key to your career development and success. Networking is about building relationships and connections in a purposeful, organized way. Networking is not quickly acquiring names of people just to get a job.
Explore Interests and Skills:
You must be able to articulate who you are and what you are looking for. Ask yourself these questions before you begin networking: Can you clearly state your career interests? Can you describe the type of position you are seeking? Are you aware of your geographical preferences and limitations? If you need help sorting out some of this make an appointment to meet with a career counselor.
Create a List of Contacts:
Write down the names of people you know: friends and their parents, family members, faculty, neighbors, coworkers, supervisors, family doctor, broker, banker, realtor, etc. Think of people you have met through your participation in volunteer activities, school organizations, professional organizations, internships, etc. Your objective is to develop a list as long as possible. At this point, don't worry if your contacts know about the field that interests you or how you are going to contact them. Simply make the list.
Organize your List of Contacts:
Review your list and determine whom you should contact first based on your career field. If you have a specific location in which you are looking for a position, contact individuals in that area or individuals that may have contacts in that area. If you are not comfortable with networking, start with those individuals that you feel most comfortable contacting. It is important to have a starting point. Consider the following additional avenues to identify and develop new contacts:
- Professional Associations, on and off campus
- Career Center programs: networking events, alumni and industry panels
- Campus recruiting events: career fairs, company information sessions
Making Networking Contacts:
After you have determined whom to contact, there are several ways you can contact them (phone, email or letter). During these initial contacts, do not ask for a job. Instead, schedule a meeting, either in person or over the phone, when the two of you can talk. This process may seem intimidating. The Networking Handout has many useful tips including examples of effective networking questions you can ask during your meeting. For assistance with this process, meet with a Career Counselor.
Networking Follow Up:
Building your professional network means staying in touch with your contacts. Send a thank you letter to everyone who has assisted you, even if it is someone you know well. For tips on writing letters, review the Cover Letter Handout. Let your contacts know that you appreciate and value their suggestions and you plan to take action on them. Keep your contacts informed as you follow up on their advice. Even after you get a job you should work to maintain professional contact with your network. Your network can help you with career development throughout your life.