- student organizations
- volunteer activities
Seventy-five percent of all professional positions are filled through networking.
Based on this statistic from Harvard-based sociologist Mark Gronowetter, if you aren't building your network, you may be hindering your job search.
What is networking, really?
Networking is about making connections and building rapport with people. It helps you get the information, advice, resources, referrals and job leads that you need to succeed in your career. It also helps other people succeed in their own careers. It's a vitally important skill that can help you stand out in an increasingly competitive job market.
Where should you network?
You can find business contacts anywhere, so always be on the lookout. Here are a few common places to start making professional connections:
- your references
- in the classroom
- career fairs
- professional associations
- other job seekers
- professional meetups
How to build your professional network
1. Make a list of every potential contact you have. The list might include other students, faculty, friends, family or even friends of friends.
2. Talk with each contact on your list. Tell them what kind of job you want, and ask if they have any contacts or advice for you. If you aren't sure what kind of job you want, talk to your contacts about your interests and the type of work you'd like to do.
3. Once you have a list of new contacts from your network, call or write to each one to ask for a meeting. Make sure to tell them who referred you. And ask if they can spare a few minutes to talk with you about their company, industry or department. Even if they don't have any job openings, the information and connections they provide can be invaluable.
4. When you meet with your new contacts, give them a brief overview of your skills, experiences and what you're looking for. Ask for advice, connections and suggestions. And don't forget to bring your resume along; this is a great opportunity to get an opinion on your resume from a professional in your field.
5. As you conclude the meeting, leave a business card and your resume, and ask if you can call if you think of additional questions. Don't forget to ask if your new contact has any job leads or knows anyone else you should meet!
6. Send a thank you note. Let your new contact know that you appreciate his/her time. Be personal and specific, and let your contact know if any of his/her leads or advice led to new opportunities for you.
7. Keep a log of your contacts. Keep track of each contact, who referred each one and to whom that person referred you. It's important to remember the chain of connections—and thank the appropriate people once you find your job.
Questions to consider
What if I don't know what job I want?
Start by conducting several informational interviews within your personal network or through DU's Alumnifire.
When I talk to my contacts, what should I say?
Give contacts a brief outline of your interests, skills and experiences with a short elevator pitch.
Learn how to share a short introduction of your career skills, experience and interests here.