Tips and advice to take the mystery out of career networking
When you are searching for a job, most people will tell you the number one rule is to network. Networking can often be more effective than searching for jobs online because it is more personal than an online job applications where your resume is mixed in with hundreds of competitors. Effective networking can alert you to potential job openings and help get your name and resume in front of a hiring manager.
But how do you build a career network if you are just starting out in your new career field? What are the steps you need to take? Your network will not get built overnight, but with time and dedication, you can expand your network one step at a time.
Step 1. Identify your goals
Before you think about networking, you should think about your goals. What do you want for your career in your first year? What kind of position do you want? What are some of the key employers in your area that you would like to work for? What do you envision in the next 5 to 10 years?
Step 2. Who do you know?
You might be surprised that you already know a lot of people who can be part of your career network. Start with your instructors, career services advisors, and school administrators. If you make a good impression with them, they will be likely to support you in your job search. Also think about friends, family members, and neighbors. They may already know someone who works in your new career field. And lastly, stay connected with your classmates, even after graduation. You can support one another along the journey into your new career.
Step 3. Build and maintain online profile
LinkedIn is the most well-known online resource for developing your career network. Make sure you keep your profile up to date. And stay active by posting articles, endorsing and recommending others, and joining professional groups. Find out more about creating an effective LinkedIn profile and making the most out of LinkedIn’s features.
Step 4. Reach out to your contacts and build new contacts
Most of the people in your personal network will be happy to help however they can. They may not be experts in your new career field, but they can help get you started. Here are questions you can ask when you contact someone:
- Tell them you recently got training and are looking for a job in your new career field
- Ask them how they got started in their own careers and what tips helped them
- Ask them if they know anyone working in your new field
- Ask them if they know anyone who works at any of the key employers that you have targeted
- Ask them to help you get connected with their connections. It’s possible these people may know of some open positions
- Get connected on LinkedIn with any new people that you meet through this process
Step 5. Go to Career Services
Be sure to take advantage of the career development office at your school or college. They may have information about job fairs, job postings, and alumni events that can get you connected with the right people.
Step 6. Get involved
Getting more involved in the community is a great way to build your career network. Consider volunteering in a position that’s related to your job field. Or attend community networking events and other activities where you will meet new people.
Step 7. Try for informational interviews
If you are not having any luck finding job interviews, try to secure an informational interview with someone in your new field. An informational interview is simply for you to learn more about the field. It doesn’t mean there’s a job position open. But having the interview is a great way to get your name out there and build connections.
With these 7 tips, you should be well on your way to building a career network. Your network will continue to grow with you as you advance in your career. Best of luck!
The Harris School of Business offers career-focused training programs at our campuses in the Philadelphia area, south Jersey, central New Jersey, Delaware, and Connecticut. Find out more about starting your career with us.