What is networking?
"Networking" is a means of utilizing people to learn about organizations, career fields and to share knowledge. It's not new or unusual. Chances are you do it everyday! How did you find out about your car mechanic or your favorite restaurant? Most likely, someone referred you to them. This process is what employers use to fill positions. Their "contacts" refer job candidates to them. The key is for you to be the one referred when openings are available.
Networking is not asking for a job! First generate a list of possible contacts these may include:
- Friends and relatives
- Parent's, aunt's and uncle's friends
- Former and current employers/employees
- Faculty and administration
- Career Fairs
- Campus workshops, presentations and career panels
- Fairfield Alumni Network (Online Community)
- Community contacts (bankers, lawyers, CPAs, Chamber of Commerce, politicians, clergy)
- Professional association members and officers
- People mentioned in local newspapers, alumni magazines, trade journals
- People mentioned in directories of companies and associations
- People working in a field or in an organization which interests you
- People who would know any of the above
- Anyone you meet!
In connecting with your network let your contact understand why you chose them. This will help to clarify why you want to meet with them. Remember, your goal is to meet with them to obtain and share information. You want to make a good impression so that your contact will feel comfortable referring you to their network contacts.
You meet, preferably at their workplace, usually for about a half hour. You ask most of the questions, and in return, you gain insights into their profession. In addition, you can ask for advice regarding your own job search. You may even learn about some interesting job openings. And you always ask for the names and phone numbers of other professionals whom you might also interview. Thus, the process of building your network continues.