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Networking-Making Positive Career Connections

Did you know that students graduating today will change jobs at least 9 times in their lives? This is why it is so important for you to know about various effective ways to job search.

There is more to networking than just “finding a job”. Networking is an activity that takes place every day of our lives, whether job-related or not. Did you talk to someone at breakfast to review what might be on the upcoming exam? That’s networking. Did you ask your professor which reference materials would be the best in preparing a term paper? That’s networking. Did you ask friends if they knew of anyone driving home for the weekend? That’s networking.

Networking is already far more active in your life than you night have originally thought. The key to making it effective in your job search is to provide clear focus and direction. Following are several objectives to keep in mind when speaking with others about your job search:

  • To make others aware of your job search and your career focus.
  • To open up additional lines of communication in the job market.
  • To increase your knowledge about a particular career field or industry.
  • To find out more about potential employers.
  • To discover hidden job opportunities.
  • To open the possibility of creating a job where none currently exists.

In order to achieve your networking objectives, you need to consider each contact with another human being as a potential opportunity to further expand your network. You will come in contact with other people each and every day. How you integrate that contact into your job search network will greatly determine your potential for overall success in your job search. And there are scores, if not hundreds, of people out there who are ready and willing to help.

There are two types of job markets, formal and informal.

The formal job market consists of jobs that can be seen, are advertised, and are made known to the public. They are also known as “traditional” or “visible” sources of job leads. The formal job market makes up 25% of the job openings. These positions are advertised through:

  • classifieds
  • newspaper ads
  • positions posted with the Career Services office
  • private employment agencies
  • state employment services
  • job search/employer web sites

The informal job market consists of jobs that can not be seen, are not advertised, and are not made known to the public in a formal way. As many as 75% of jobs are not available through any publicly available process. In fact, most employers prefer referrals from employees or others since they know these are more reliable and less trouble. These positions are found through:

  • personal contacts
  • friends
  • relatives
  • direct contact with employers

 
Networking

Networking is a necessary tool to access this informal job market. There are two ways to begin your networking process, through warm and cold contacts.

Warm contacts begin by networking with people you know. Examples of warm contacts include:

  • parents
  • relatives (immediate and distant)
  • friends
  • neighbors (past and present)
  • alumni
  • present and former co-workers
  • teachers
  • members of professional organizations
  • service clubs
  • social groups
  • members of labor unions
  • religious institutions

Questions to ask these contacts include:

  • Do you know of any openings for a person with my skills?
  • Do you know of anyone else who might know of an opening?
  • Do you know someone who has a good network of professional contacts?

Hints for Using Warm Contacts:

  • Share a copy of your latest resume with them, to refresh their memory.
  • Don’t ask them for a job, just ask for their ideas about where you might turn.
  • Turn to them again if your initial contacts don’t produce enough.
  • When you accept a job, notify them and thank them for their help.

***It is important to follow up on this information because it can lead to several other contacts.

Cold Contacts are people you do not know. Good resources for cold contacts are the yellow pages and other directories. It is also helpful to keep a record of all contacts and potential contacts. Information you will want to record is the organization, contact person, phone number, source of the lead, and notes such as dates you contacted the person and what your conversation was about.

If you are moving to a new area, the traditional job market is a start for your job search. To begin, get the local paper, phone book, contact the area Chamber of Commerce, and search for any local web sites. Do not contact these companies until you have done some research on their organization. You can gather company information through the world wide web, research found in the library or your career resource center, or calling the personnel office of the organization.

Networking can be very beneficial in your job search if you are moving to a different region. In this case, develop a list of people who live in that area including:

  • Clarke alumni
  • religious leaders
  • members of related professional associations
  • ask locals, friends, and family if they know of someone who lives in that area

Informational interviewing is something you can do now to start developing a network of professional contacts. Informational interviewing involves identifying people who are doing what you want to be doing and asking them questions related to their current job.

  • Describe your career path. How did each job lead to your next position?
  • What are related jobs and industries which I might explore? If you made a career change, what other fields would you consider?
  • Where can someone in an entry-level position expect to be in two years? Five years? Ten years?
  • Could you describe a typical day?
  • What skills are required in your position on a day-to-day basis?
  • What parts of your job do you find most challenging?
  • Is this field growing?
  • What is the background of most senior-level executives?
  • What qualifications do you seek in a new hire?
  • What do you think of my resume? How do you suggest I change it?
  • What companies might be interested in hiring someone with my qualifications?
  • What advice do you have for students who are preparing to enter your field?
  • What starting salaries can one expect?
  • Is a graduate degree important? If so, what fields of study are helpful?
  • Do you know of other professionals with whom I might speak for more information about this field

10 Networking Tips

  1. KNOW EXACTLY what it is you want from others. Prepare questions in advance of a meeting or telephone conversation. Be succinct, courteous, and appreciative.
  2. HAVE A POSITIVE attitude when you network.
  3. TALK TO STRANGERS, and mingle with people you don’t already know at meetings and events. Introduce yourself!
  4. SHARE INFORMATION, ideas, resources, and contacts with others. Networking is a two-way process.
  5. DON’T ASK for too much at one time. Limit the amount of assistance or information you seek from one person.
  6. DON’T NEGLECT to follow-up on leads you have been given. You don’t want to embarrass those who have made connections for you.
  7. DON’T BETRAY other people’s confidentiality. Trust is a vital part of networking.
  8. DON’T MONOPOLIZE other people’s time when networking. Keep your conversation brief and make arrangements to call or meet at another time if you discover areas of mutual interest.
  9. CONTINUE NETWORKING even after you’ve found a job. There will always be ways an active network can help. Everyone needs a personal and professional support system. Keep yours in place throughout your career.
  10. INCORPORATE NETWORKING into your everyday life. It is a powerful tool for marketing yourself, but also a powerful tool for enriching your life and the lives of those around you.
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