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How To Network On A Daily Basis

The best kept secret is that a successful career comes from hard work, determination, AND long-term, mutually beneficial relationships. Networking describes the process of establishing these relationships and it can happen in formal settings, such as career fairs, or in informal settings, such as at a restaurant. One of the most important reasons to network is that it gives you an advantage over other job seekers. It's just like going to office hours and having casual conversation with your professor. Essentially, if you're on his or her good side, more than likely, it will benefit you in the long run. Fact of the matter is, employers absolutely love it when job seekers show initiative. Believe it or not, many people have mentioned that hiring managers had already made a decision to hire them before the initial interview process even began as a result of networking and relationships that had already been established. Even after you’ve found an internship or a job, networking will continue to serve you well as you seek opportunities for advancement.

One of the most important reasons to network is that it gives you an advantage over other job seekers.

 

How To Get Started

First things first, you should work with a counselor, mentor, or someone with career experience to help you identify industries that may be of interest to you. DO NOT LIMIT YOURSELF! It's great to have a general idea of what you're good at and what you think you may want to do in the future, but it's also true that many people end up working at companies that have almost nothing to do with their degrees. Next, craft a resume and a LinkedIn profile page. Work with an advisor to make sure it's top notch and flawless. Finally, make business cards. Yes. How else do you expect for someone to contact you or remember you? You can make business cards on VistaPrint for as little as 9 bucks. All you have to do is put down your name, email, and phone number. Trust me, people will be particularly impressed if you hand them a business card. You will have already set yourself apart from the general population of job seekers.

 

Making Contact

Start small with family and friends. Your friends can point in the direction or put you in contact with one of their other friends. That other friend could know someone in the industry that you're interested in and could give you their contact information. It's a building process and you have to start with a foundation. Don't get discouraged because everyone isn't going to be key the your final destination, but every person you connect with allows you to open a new door of opportunity.

You're probably wondering what you should say when having actual conversation. It seems logical to ask for an internship or job, right? Ehhhh...NO. Literally, never do that. Your main goal is to ask for help, advice, or insight on how to get started in the industry of your interest. Once again, networking is about building relationships that can help you down the road. You don't just walk up to your professor and say, "give me an A," do you? I certainly hope not because that won't end well. It's the same concept with networking. If you don't present yourself as a genuine individual, you will be brushed to the side. At the end of each conversation mention that you would like to learn about their career path and field of work. Hand them your business card and if they don't exchange one to you then ask. At the very least, they will give you their email or phone number.

 

Requesting An Informational Interview

An informational interview is a brief meeting that allows you to ask questions about a person's career path, current position, appropriate ways to position yourself for a similar job, and so forth. You can set these up with anyone doing something interesting or relevant to you. Call or e-mail someone to set up an informational interview. A sample may look something like this:

Dear Mr. Smith,

I am a rising junior in the College of Arts and Sciences, and hope to pursue a career in secondary education upon graduation. Given that you have over five years of experience in this field, I would appreciate the chance to ask you a few questions about your career path and your experience in the public school system in Tennessee.

I realize that this time of year is likely a busy one for you. I am hopeful that you would be willing to speak with me over the phone or via email at some point during the next two weeks. Please let me know if you are able to talk with me and if so what method of communication would be preferable.

Thank you very much in advance for your time and insight.

Sincerely,

Jane Doe
 

REMEMBER the most effective informational interviews are conducted with the goal of learning, not simply obtaining an offer. Be genuine. Questions you could ask during the conversation:

How did you choose this career?
What types of experiences are essential?
What's a typical work day like for you?
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
How do people find out about these jobs in your industry?
What organizations would you recommend I pursue?
Is there a certain person within this organization whom I should contact first?
May I use your name when I contact them?

 

Final Step: KEEP THE NETWORK ALIVE!!!

Once you have completed the informational interview, send a thank you e-mail immediately. Keep a record of your interviews. Names, titles, addresses, dates, and topics of discussion will help you remember who told you what, and how to get in touch with your contacts. Check in with your network from time and time to see how their doing and also give them updates on how you're doing. If you don't keep in touch, people in your network will either assume that you're doing fine or you no longer require their help. I hope after reading this you use the information and take a huge step towards accomplishing your life goals.