Networking is the process of establishing contacts for the purpose of gathering information, seeking advice and opening doors to new opportunities.
To begin networking, identify your core network of people and work outwards. Ask yourself “Who do I know?” Essentially, your network is everyone you know (family, friends, professors, etc.). Everyone is in a position to help you. If you talk to enough people you will begin to see how inter-related society really is.
The beauty of networking is that it can be used both to search for employment as well as to uncover information about different occupations, industries and applications for your skills and interests.
Some of the people you might include on your network list are:
- Relatives & family friends
- Acquaintances & friends
- Co-workers & former co-workers
- Neighbours (current & past)
- Teachers & professors
- Previous employers or those to whom you are applying
- Teammates from your athletic/sport teams
- Classmates or other students
- People from your church or community groups
- People with whom you volunteer
- Business people (bank manager, insurance agent, etc.)
- Professionals within your desired field
- Members of professional organization(s)
- Chamber of Commerce staff
Once you have identified your core network, start talking to people.
Practice your F.A.S.T. Pitch ahead of time, so that you are prepared to use it as a means of introducing yourself:
F - First: name and firm handshake
A - Academics: year and major
S - Skills: strengths and interest (in position, their company, the industry, mentoring, etc.)
T - Target: define your objective (what is your goal for speaking with this person)
- Remember to smile and maintain good eye contact. Demonstrating a positive attitude and being engaged are very important!
- Ask about the next step in the recruitment process if a recruiter is willing to accept your resume at the event. Some employers will decline and refer you to the SECC and the specific postings on the job postings board and website.
- Be sure to thank employers for their time before you leave.
Move beyond the core group of people and arrange career information interviews, using referrals they have given you to further build your network. And remember, LinkedIn can also be a very powerful tool and resource to build your network and expand your list of connections.
Using the Phone
The telephone is one of the best tools you have for your job search. People are generally willing to help and share information if you are courteous, respectful of their time, and grateful for the help you receive. Many people resist using the telephone when looking for work because they are uncomfortable calling strangers and fear being rejected or making a mistake.
The key to success in using the telephone in your job search is to plan what you want to say, and then practise handling these situations before they occur. Using the telephone will prepare you to:
- Gather information about jobs and companies
- Develop a network of contacts
- Tie up loose ends in your job search
As you practise using the telephone, you will improve your communication skills and increase your confidence. Learning to use the telephone effectively will greatly improve your chance of finding a job. When initiating a telephone call always introduce yourself, state the reason for your telephone call, and ask if the person has a moment to speak with you.
Advantages of Using the Phone
- Immediate feedback – you can contact many people in a short period of time
- Verifying contacts – you know immediately if the proper person has received your application
- Interactive contact – you can tailor your presentation to the contact’s interests
- Demands attention – a ringing telephone is usually answered immediately
Informational Calls (to seek information in regard to your job search)
- Might lead to a networking call
- Might lead to a career information interview
- Three-quarters of the conversation will be your questions
Networking Calls (to access the hidden job market)
- Talk with people or organizations that may have openings in your area of expertise
- If asked, or if you feel it is appropriate, talk about yourself—a 30 second summary