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What does it mean to network? Contrary to popular belief, networking is not calling up every person you know (or don’t know, for that matter) and asking them for a job. Nor is networking simply "working a room" in an attempt to collect business cards and make contacts with people who can provide you with something of value. Instead, networking refers to a give and take process of connecting with people and building lasting relationships. It’s about meeting new people, sharing information and learning about potential opportunities and various career fields.
Research shows that as many as 90% of open positions are filled as a result of networking. The contacts you make, if cultivated and used wisely, can lead to future employment. Everyone has a network; it’s just a matter of thinking broadly and creatively about who is in it. This includes friends, family, neighbors, teachers/faculty (past or present), employers/coworkers (past or present), members of professional societies, employers who come to campus, alumni, religious affiliations, etc. In addition, the ever-evolving world of social media has opened up countless new ways to network virtually with virtually anyone.
While some people seem naturally more comfortable and adept at approaching strangers, engaging in conversations and building relationships, many others approach the task of networking with a good amount of uncertainty and apprehension. Keep in mind that networking is a skill, and like most things, can be learned, practiced and improved over time.
Step 1. Understand that networking is really just a process of meeting people and having conversations. It's not a sales call and it's not a job interview.
Step 2. Be directive, but not forceful. Since you are typically the one who generated this interaction, you need to be ready to help steer the conversation. Have some questions in mind beforehand - about the person's career path, about their organization, about advice they may have for you and so forth. Let the dialog flow from there.
Step 3. Be appreciative. You should always respect the time and efforts of the people you interact with. That means be brief if you call without scheduling a meeting, be on time if you do have a scheduled meeting and be attentive at all times.
Step 4. Follow up. You should always send a follow-up after meeting someone, and this can be in the form of an email, a mailed letter or even a connection requests on Linkedin. If the meeting was in a formal setting, the follow up should have the tone of a "thank you" letter.
Step 5. Maintain the relationship. The follow up doesn't stop with an email or Linkedin connection. Look for opportunities to reconnect on an occasional-but-ongoing basis in the months and years that follow.
Networking and marketing yourself is very important to your job/internship search. A networking business card will look a lot like a traditional business card and provides a way to share career and contact information with those you meet in both social and professional situations. A business card can act as a mini resume when giving a resume isn’t appropriate and may be retained by the recipient much longer than a resume.
Please check this link for more information and an example.
Look for ways to meet and mingle with working professionals. Career Services provides multiple career events throughout the fall and spring trimesters as well as a list of off campus events. Check the Career Services events schedule for details and additional information.
Students should also consider other options for networking, which can include professional groups or association meetings, Chamber of Commerce groups and more generalized industry or geographically-oriented networking events. See the links below for examples of local networking events and organizations.
Career Fair Tips
Connecting with Northwest alumni can be one of the best approaches to networking. Members of the Bearcat family have loyalty to Northwest and are often happy to help students with networking and informational interviewing.
There are many options for locating and connecting with graduates of Northwest. In addition to Northwest alumni groups on social media outlets like LinkedIn and Facebook, you can attend alumni chapter meetings in a variety of locations.
Connecting with Alumni
The use of social media in career-related activities has increased dramatically in recent years. These relatively new outlets can benefit you in several areas, including keeping you informed on trends and news, serving as a place to source jobs and internships and allowing you to expand your network. There is a wide array of social media sites that you can utilize and the popularity of each will change as technology and trends dictate. We recommend you consider the following:
There are a variety of other tools and sites that you can use to develop your personal brand and incorporate into your job search strategy, including blogging (Wordpress.com, Blogger.com) and participating in sharing networks (Slideshare.com). Like most career-related activities, you should initiate these as part of a larger strategy that emphasizes your personal skills and values. Explore opportunities and decide what avenues are best for your goals.
LinkedIn.com provides the opportunity to stay in touch with your professional connections. However, it does much more than that, other aspects of the site can provide an amazing amount of value to your career exploration or job search activities. Here is how we recommend that you use LinkedIn.