Networking: Why is it so important?
For many people, the word "networking" sounds daunting. Just the sound of it brings on anxiety! Our goal is to help you see the art of networking in a positive, unintimidating way. Like it or not, networking is consistently found to be the most effective job searching tool. Therefore, it's important to understand what networking is and how you can become confident using it.
So, what is networking in its purest form?
Networking is about building relationships that provide the opportunity to explore career options, request job searching advice, practice interviewing, and obtain job search leads. Networking is NOT about asking for a job.
It's important to have a goal in mind when networking. Take some time to brainstorm about your core strengths and interests. It's important to be clear, concise, and confident when speaking with a contact.
- Start with your personal contacts.
Think about who is already in your network - friends, relatives, faculty, church members, internship or employment supervisors, coaches, your roommates parents - and start there.
- Keep a record of the people you meet.
We all forget people's names, right? Immediately after you make a new contact, write down their information: name, title, company, email/phone, referral sources, date of contact, and a few notes about your conversation. If they have one, a business card comes in very handy.
- Learn to ask for referrals.
After you know what you're interested in, ask the people around you if they know someone in that particular field. You might be surprised what you can find when others share their contacts.
- Utlize Networking Resources
Messiah College alumni are an invaluable resource. They've been in your shoes and are happy to share insight and advice about their experiences since graduation. One of the most valuable tools to assist you in networking with alums is the Messiah College Professional Network on LinkedIn.
- Attend events that promote networking.
This may take some strategizing. Examples of events include job fairs, programs that include alumni, professional conferences, and so on. Try to get connected with a professional association in your field (For a directory of professional organizations, click here).