Networking

An estimated 80% of jobs filled are never advertised or posted. They are part of the “hidden job market” that exists due to reorganizations, the new introduction of new products and services, promotions, and other changes and growth in the company. The only way to find out about these “hidden jobs” is through networking.

Networking Defined
Making Contact
Potential Contact List
Other Places to Look for Contacts
The Basics
Be Strategic
Networking DOs
Networking DON'Ts
Follow Up
Final Tips...

Networking Defined

  • The art of building relationships/alliances - it is an ongoing process (not just during the job search)
  • Get to know others and VALUE getting to know others
  • Pre-existing personal connections are the most effective way to hear about and land a job

Making Contact

Anywhere can be a networking opportunity. Try the following:

  • Class presentations
  • Career & Internship Fairs
  • Career Services Resources
  • Alumni Relations
  • Professional / Student Organizations
  • Informational Interviews—Brainstorm your circle of influence and ask your friends and family who they may know in a given field

Always get a business card from the people who you meet. Keep them organized and/or create a spreadsheet with a column indicating how you met them and of what your conversation consisted.

Potential Contact List

Think about potential contacts coming from any of the following members of your immediate social, professional, school, or extra-curricular circles. The following are certain people who may be able to help:

  • Family Members, Friends, Social Acquaintances
  • Co-workers (present and former), Current or Previous Employers
  • Alumni from your high school or College
  • Members of clubs or professional organizations
  • Various service professionals:  Lawyers, Hairdressers, Doctors, Accountants

Other Places to Look for Contacts …

If you are not finding contacts within your immediate circles, there are still a variety of places to start networking.

  • Employment offices of companies in which you are interested
  • Temporary agencies – Temp agencies such as Accountemps or Robert Half International can give you temporary opportunities to get work experience and network with potential employers while you earn money
  • Local Chamber of Commerce
  • Employment Development Department or State Unemployment Agency
  • Local library or college job posting services
  • HandsOn Central California – people in all different walks of life volunteer; you just might make a positive connection while doing something helpful with your time

The Basics

  • Know yourself – in order to make a potentially fruitful contact, you have to have an idea about what you want and be able to communicate that idea. You should have a 20 to 30 second introduction of yourself prepared – especially for Career Fair events
  • Be professional and confident – you will not make a good impression with slumped shoulders and a limp handshake!
  • Be interested and interesting – Ask questions of the person! No one likes someone who talks about themselves the entire time.  Make sure to let the other person talk as well. Also, when it is your turn to talk, make sure you have something to say. Do not be a couch potato – go out and join an organization, volunteer, travel, something!
  • Do NOT get frustrated or fear rejection – Striking up a relationship out of thin air is not easy. You should expect that some conversations will not go well – you win some, you lose some. The important thing is that you get back on the horse!

Be Strategic

  • Know who will attend an event before you go
  • Set goals of who you would like to talk to
  • Great networkers are not just “lucky”—they have a plan
  • BUT…Also Seize Unforeseen Opportunities – you never know what a given person may bring

Networking Dos

  • Do Chat up the Little Guy – You never know what sort of influence someone may have in an office. Be nice to everyone you meet out of common courtesy, but you never know when the front desk attendant at an office may slip a good word in for you to the big cheese
  • Do SKIP the Buffet –Networking events are for networking, not for eating! Eat a little something before going to the event so you are not tempted to bombard the buffet
  • DO make it Personal – If the conversation starts steering toward your mutual love of arena football, let it go there. You will eventually return to business, and sometimes talking about personal things (when appropriate) can make for a stronger connection and shared interests
  • DO forget the Hard Sell – You are not selling vacuums door to door. Relationships take a while to evolve, so avoid the urge to invite yourself over to dinner right away. Keep in mind that you will follow up with the person and try to continue the building of the connection
  • Do Respect their Time – Keep in mind they probably have other people they want to, so look for social cues that say the conversation is over. Also offer them an out like… “It was so nice to meet you, but I don’t want to take up too much of your time. Do you have a business card, so I can follow up via email?”

Networking Don’ts

  • Don’t TRY to do it all – You want a loose plan because there is not time for you to talk to everyone in the room. Do the best you can. It will look bad if you are rushing from person to person and having fake, quick conversations.
  • Don’t be an Apple Polisher – Throwing excessive flattery at a person, especially when unwarranted, is bad taste. A simple compliment is fine, but try to keep it short and simple. You do not want to appear as a doting person, but rather as a potential equal
  • Don’t waste time on fillers – People know that you are at a networking event, so cut to the chase. Introducing yourself and asking how the person is can be a fine opener, but do not launch into sports chat right away when you know your intention is to talk business
  • Don’t Over think it – You will get way too nervous if you try script everything out for yourself. Have an idea of what you want to say, but also let it flow
  • Don’t Confuse Informal with Casual – Even if person starts using foul language or drinks too much alcohol, don’t follow suit. That person is already where they want to be in their career – you are not. Stay professional even if your contact is exhibiting questionable behavior.

Follow Up

  • Follow up is key – your contact is most likely not going to seek you out for a second conversation – you need to take that initiative!
  • Do not leave a conversation without asking for contact information
  • Create a spreadsheet and timeline for managing contacts
  • Do not only check in with a contact when you need something – sending an interesting article you found or commenting on the Yankees’ latest win goes a long way to make a person feel that you like them and not only how they can help you

Final Tips

  • Do something worth talking about
  • Know what is going on in the world – if current events come up, you do not want to look like the only news site you have kept up on is tmz.com
  • Be positive in all interactions—especially new ones – no one wants to work with a Negative Nancy or Ned or to hear how much you hated your trip to the Grand Canyon!
  • Networking should be a reciprocal relationship—what have you done for others lately?

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