What, Who, and Where
What is Networking?
The term 'networking' describes a variety of actions taken to establish and develop professional relationships and to exchange information about particular positions, organizations, or industries. Networking can happen in formal settings, such as during our annual Careers for the Common Good event, or in informal settings, such as on an airplane. When it's done well, networking is not schmoozing, asking people to find you a job, or 'using' people exclusively for your own benefit. It's a two-way street ideally, where both participants are learning new things and connecting for short-term learning and long-term career growth.
Why Networking is Important
Networking is important for several reasons. The most compelling, perhaps, is that many job vacancies are never posted for the general public to see. By connecting with people in your industry, you can learn about these hidden positions and give yourself an advantage over other job seekers.
As you learn about positions or industries, your networking efforts will provide insights beyond what you can find using online resources, salary calculators, or job descriptions. Even after you’ve found an internship or a job, networking will continue to serve you well as you attend conferences, collaborate with others, or seek opportunities for advancement.
Who should be in my Network?
Anyone. Make a list of every person you know (friends, relatives, former co-workers, neighbors, and past acquaintances). It is important to be exhaustive in your brainstorming; you never know what insights, previous experiences, or connections a cousin or professor may have. Think of the following categories to help you get started:
A note about LinkedIn:
Friends and family
Faculty and teachers
Peers and alumni
Former co-workers and supervisors
Foundations, associations and conferences
Facebook, LinkedIn, listservs
LinkedIn is a professional networking site that can help you connect with old friends and new contacts. Groups related to university connections or professional organizations can often generate job leads as well. Additionally, check out the 'Answers' section to pose a question to an industry message board.