Follow each week as we present step-by-step suggestions to achieve post-college success with less senior year stress.
Whether you’ve been looking since the fall or haven’t begun to think about it, it is by no means too late to start or continue your job search. In fact, sometimes it’s best to take a deep breath, and go back to the basics. Here is a basic set of networking tips to help you get started.
Not that kind of web.
1. Cast a wide net.
Start by making a list of anyone and everyone whom you know that might be able to inform you about your desired career OR who might be able to link you to someone who can. Some find it helpful to create a networking spreadsheet, others a simple word document. Find what works for you and start emailing, phoning and talking to your web of contacts. I try to constantly talk about my career aspirations–to my hairstylist, professors, co-workers friends–anyone who might suddenly realize that they DO have a friend or uncle or hairstylist who might be able to help. You just never know.
2. Don’t forget about social networking. Is your LinkedIn account up-to-date? Is your Facebook profile appropriate? Start learning the tips and tricks to networking via social media.
3. Keep asking questions, but make sure they’re the right kind. Once you’ve reached out to your network of contacts, start asking questions and advice. Say you get the email address of someone in the industry/area you’d like to get a job in. Don’t start off with, “Hi I’m really hoping to get hired at your company, can you help me?” It’s best to ease into this new and fragile relationship. Start by simply asking how they got there, and what advice they have. Hopefully previous networking has led you to some of the “right” questions. By building on your previous networking experiences, you are better informed when it comes to the next level of networking.
4. Thank people as you go along. It’s easy to forget this one, but it may be the most important part of networking. Being gracious and appreciative makes people WANT to help you. If you treat people like stepping-stones, they tend to disappear.
5. Target specific organizations. We often talk about researching an industry, but at some point you need to start targeting specific companies and perusing networking contacts within them. There are a number of ways to do this:
- LinkedIn- search the company you want to work for and find someone within it to politely contact for advice, NOT a job.
- Career counselors- visit The Career Center and talk with a career coach. Ask about ways you can identify people to contact for advice or even an informational interview.
- Google- you can find out just about anything on Google these days. Try searching the company you want to work for and finding an employee to reach out to. Take a look at names mentioned in press releases, news articles, and on websites.
6. Achieve in-person contact. This can take shape in a number of ways, but will likely be an essential part of job search networking. Here are some things to try:
- Set up an informational interview with one of your contacts. Ask to buy them lunch or coffee, and come prepared to ask questions, NOT ask for a job (yet).
- Join a professional association. These groups often hold networking events and gatherings where you can meet people and practice your pitch.
7. Maintain relationships. Again, don’t forget to express gratitude to those who have helped you along your networking path. Simple thank-you cards are great, thank-you emails and phone calls are good too. Let people know how you are doing, and ask how they are doing too. Networking is two-way street.
8. Stay true to you. Take some time to revisit your iPlan. Make sure you know your story, community and presentation, and don’t stray too far from your unique personal brand. Stay true to who you are what it is you really want to do. And remember…
“If you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.”
Photo credit: cybershotking / CC BY 2.0