When we hear the word "networking," many people think of "doing lunch," selling ourselves, and handing out business cards. If we changed the word to “connecting,” we might feel better about it. Your job search begins with the people you know! Never underestimate their knowledge and influence. Most people really enjoy helping one another when they can. Therefore, if you ask someone for help or information, most people will gladly provide it.
You might not realize it, but you connect with people every day. You can easily use these encounters to your advantage. For example, you have opportunities to network when you:
- Attend professional conferences, conventions, and presentations.
- Visit people at a social club, community agency, or religious gathering.
- Greet those who are sitting near you at a sporting event.
- Talk with your neighbors.
- Strike up a conversation while waiting in the check-out line at the grocery store.
- Reconnect with old friends and colleagues online.
These are just a few of the many opportunities that you might have for networking. You can use these conversations and connections as ways to learn about business leads, find common areas of interests, and establish a working relationship with a potential mentor or colleague. If you establish a positive, long-term relationship with people, they might be able to refer you to particular job vacancies. Almost 80% of job vacancies today are never advertised! Therefore, most people land jobs based on who they know…not what they know. Networking is a powerful way to get your foot in the door! Don't forget -- you're not asking for a job! You are seeking information, a lead, a contact, or a referral. Think of it as a research project…without a grade.
- Develop a list of possible contacts: relatives, neighbors, friends, colleagues, co-workers, professors, friends of parents and parents of friends, doctors, veterinarians, hairdressers, UNCG alumni, etc.
- Create business cards. You can either create your own business cards or order them through outside companies. The prices are reasonable and the investment is worth it! You do not want to find yourself in a situation in which someone wants to connect with you in the future for professional development, and you have no form of contact to give him or her.
- Prepare a sample script (below) and call each contact. Tell them in 30 seconds what kind information you are looking for. Ask if they can help you or refer you to someone who can.
Shape it and/or shorten it to suit the situation or person you’re talking to or writing.
My name is ______ and I am a student at UNCG majoring in ________. I’ll be graduating next year and am working diligently to find out more about careers in ________. I have great skills in ______ and I’m trying to learn about careers which may be a fit. Can you recommend someone at your company I could talk with for advice and suggestions?
May I use your name?
- Monday - Friday (9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.) - Meet with a Peer Career Ambassador for a 15-minute “Drop In” question-answer session.
- Monday - Friday (8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.) - Schedule a 60-minute appointment/counseling session with a Career Counselor, in order to obtain more information about this subject.