Networking can be helpful in learning more about your career field and bringing job opportunities to your attention that you may not otherwise hear about. Your network may include friends, relatives, neighbors, alumni, former or current employers, faculty, etc.
Some people with whom you connect through your network may be willing to actively assist you by distributing your résumé, referring you to employers, or "putting in a good word" for you. Do not ask for, or expect, special favors from people you do not know very well. You do not want to impose on their good will. Also, do not ask if they have jobs for you. Instead, ask for their advice. People are much more likely to offer advice than they are to offer a job.
It is important to:
- complete informational interviews to get to know the folks you are networking with
- develop and maintain contact with people who might know of job openings
- let your networking contacts know what type of work you are seeking
- ask them to share news of possible openings with you and your résumé with people they know who might have openings
How to Start Networking
In order for a network to be productive, you must maintain regular contact. Keep your network informed of what you are doing and any progress you have made. Let them know the results of any referrals they may have given you. And do not forget to say thank you for any assistance they give you! Be sure to utilize the Bobcat Mentor Network, and the handout library in your networking plan.
Conduct Informational Interviews
Informational interviewing is a great way to build relationships with new individuals and those whom are already in your network.
An informational interview is an opportunity for you to get to know an individual in your field of interest. You may learn more about a specific field or industry, a specific organization and its culture, job search strategies, and possibly be connected to other key players within the field or organization.
Questions you may ask during an informational interview include:
- What do you do in your job?
- What preparation did you have for this job?
- How did you find your job (or how do people in this field find jobs)?
- What do you like/dislike most about your job?
- Is it difficult to balance your work and personal life within this field?
- What are the trends and challenges within the field and how have they affected your job?
- What is the typical career path for someone in this field?
- What are the primary skills I would need to do well in this field?
- What can I do to make myself more competitive in this field?
- Could you refer me to someone else to whom I could talk about this career field?