THE POWER OF NETWORKING
What is Networking?
Networking is simply gathering information from and making contacts through the people you already know. How do you start establishing a network? After you have professional objectives in mind, begin talking to people you know such as:
- Former Instructors and Faculty
- Classmates and Professors from schools you have attended
- Former Employers
- Friends and Family
- Classmates and Professors
- Colleagues from professional, community and religious groups.
The key to creating a network is to obtain the names of at least two additional contacts each time you talk to someone. The types of questions you should ask when obtaining further contacts are:
- What organizations should I investigate.
- Do you know anyone who works in or is associated with my field of interest?
- May I mention your name when contacting other people or organizations?
More jobs are obtained through someone you know than any other way. Make a list of family, friends, faculty, college and high school alumni networks. Let them know what you are trying to accomplish and ask their advice. When talking with your contacts, it’s important NOT to ask them for a job. Rather, ask their advice on what companies are hiring and who you might talk to in those companies.
A word of caution about social networking websites: Be careful of the information posted on facebook.com, myspace.com and other social networking sites. Employers can use this avenue in screening applicants, so how your profile is presented could make a difference.
Develop A Tracking System
Develop a method of keeping track of each conversation, phone call, letter, interview, follow-up and promise.
As you begin to make professional contacts, make sure you dress and act the part. Conduct yourself in a manner that will convince your professional contact that you can do the job. This will also help you obtain other referrals much more easily.
Return The Favor
Networking is a give and take proposition. Send Thank You letters after each meeting or express it through a phone conversation. Keep in touch with members of your network and give back to it whenever possible.
You can collect information on your chosen field via informational interviewing. Informational interviewing is simply asking questions of different members of your network. Remember to ask for the names of at least two more contacts during an informational interview.
Questions To Ask During An Informational Interview
- What aspect of your job was the biggest challenge when you first started?
- What qualifications do you seek in new employees?
- If you could start over again in this field, what would you do differently?
- Should I have a particular certification or achieve a higher level degree in order to advance in this field ?
- How can I make myself a more desirable job candidate?
- What kinds of job titles would I probably have in this filed?
- What life experiences have most helped you acquire and develop knowledge of this field?
- Are there any professional groups you would recommend I join?
- How do you see this industry in the future?
- Who else should I contact within the field?