Ever hear the expression “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”? This is one of the major premises in which networking is based upon. Networking is about developing and using contacts made in a professional setting for purposes beyond the reason for the initial contact (i.e. getting a job, reference, a mentor, etc…).
Sounds simple right? Just get out and meet “people”. For university students, networking in a professional setting is often challenging because you don’t feel like you know anyone.
Where to start?
- Friends of family
- Family of friends
- Faculty & Staff
Successful Networking Tips
Do your homework!
Know your contacts
- Title, company, education, hobbies, etc…
Research the company
- Numbers, culture, competition, involvement, etc…
- What qualifications do you need to work there?
Scope out the industry
- Who’s the best? Worst? Who’s hiring?
- Employment outlooks
Current and up to date resume
- Relevant for the position/industry
- Custom for each company/position
Captivating cover letter
- Take the time to write one that reflects you
Make personalized business cards
- Professional, and easy to carry at events. Can exchange cards with contacts and follow up with custom cover letter and resume
- Available through the co-op office: firstname.lastname@example.org
Get in the loop!
Join Linkedin or whouknow (coming soon – an alumni connecting social media site created by WSB students)
- Gives you access to names of key people in organizations
- Identify what companies are hiring
- View job postings
- Join groups with whom you have similar interests
Join professional organizations
- Almost every profession has an association…JOIN!
- Attend conferences at student rates
- Your department may be willing to support you
Contact company recruiters
- Attend company open houses
- Ask questions
Read trade magazines (most available through library resources)
Look Alive at Events!
Keep eyes peeled for mentors
- Mentors are usually people with significant career experience in your area of interest. They are someone that you can look to for guidance and advice. Everyone should have one, but be smart about which you choose!
Ask interesting questions
- Shows that you are interested in them
- Must do your do your homework beforehand
Listen, listen, listen
- Remember it’s not about you!
- Take notes during and/or after the event about the contacts you’ve made
Follow-up with contacts you’ve made (see email etiquette section)
- Thank them for their time and say it was a pleasure meeting them
- Good time to perhaps suggest a future meeting (coffee, lunch, run, etc…) based on your shared interests
Volunteer your time
- Great way to expand your network
- Looks great on your resume
Help the people in your network where you can (they may be able to return the favour in the future)
- That means moving, a special project, etc…
But remember… never do something thinking you’ll get something in return
Say thank you!
Do not underestimate the power of THANK YOU! Showing your appreciation towards someone who has helped you is a must and key to keeping good relations for the future.