The old adage says, It is not what you know; it is who you know. Consider this instead, It is not who you know, it is who knows you. Networking is an essential part of finding and securing gainful employment. This important step is defined as interacting with others to not only exchange information, but also to develop contacts, and especially to further one's career.
Networking occurs in many different settings and times - in the classroom, at-campus events, during internships and even online through websites such as Linkedin.com.
Building your Network
- Begin by creating a list of contacts in your existing network. This can include family members, friends, classmates, professors, advisors, and employers, etc. Be sure to tend to those relationships regularly.
- If you find your list lacking, think about joining a student organization on campus or a professional association. You can even utilize the Northeastern State University N-Link to identify alumni in your chosen field.
- Another great way to build contacts is to attend student and professional events. During those occasions, introduce yourself to as many people as possible and provide a student business card, compliments of Career Services, also asking for others business cards. Reach out to those individuals after the event to stay connected; follow up is key.
Contacting your Network
- Be willing to reach out to contacts through different methods such as phone, email and LinkedIn.
- Always remind the person how you met her/him or who referred you.
- For example, Hello Mr. Contact, I thoroughly enjoyed speaking with you at the Networking Event at NSU in January, or Hello Ms. Contact, Ms. Career Counselor at NSU Career Services gave me your information and recommended I reach out to you.
- Be specific about the career path you are seeking information about and request a meeting time that is convenient for the contact.
Thanking your Network
- Always take time to express sincere gratitude to your contacts. If you have a meeting with a person regarding a future career path, send her/him a handwritten or email note of thanks.
- If you have an interview with a contact or she/he tells you of an employment opportunity, send her/him a hand written thank you card or letter.
- When you receive a job offer, inform your network. They have invested time and energy into your professional life so it is gratifying to see your success!