Studies reveal that at least 75 percent of jobs are acquired through networking. Developing networking skills and expanding your network will increase your odds of hearing about job openings that may not be advertised widely. Networking may strike you as a formal process, but it is often nothing more than sharing your interests and goals with daily contacts.
Remember That Networking is Not Just About You
True networking is about building a relationship and sharing information. Rather than simply asking someone for leads or advice, offer to assist him or her with a project. If an immediate offer of help is not possible, make sure you follow up with an offer or with information that might be of use.
Your Networking Introduction
You never know when you might meet someone who has information or contacts to help you advance to that next opportunity. If you are able to talk confidently and informally about your interests and goals, you will be prepared to make the most of that unexpected encounter. An introduction developed for networking situations may also be suitable as a response to the popular interview request, “Tell me something about yourself.”
Here’s an example to help you get started:
I am a _____________ at The University of Alabama, majoring in _______________. I chose (major) because _______________. Recently, I have been (involved in, worked at, volunteered at, etc.) ____________, allowing me to strengthen my skills in ______. Through classes and projects, I’ve learned _________and I believe I can contribute to an organization by ________. I’m eager to take the next step in my career and I appreciate having this opportunity to talk with you.
Where to Network with Professionals and Prospective Employers
- Career Fairs during fall and spring semesters
- Employer panels or guest speakers in classes
- Employer information tables on campus
- Employer information sessions
- Job shadowing and informational interviewing
- Collegiate tailgating activities
Example of Networking with an Employer
- Introduce yourself to the employer: “Hi, Mr. Gates, I’m Pat Student. Thank you for taking time to come to UA to speak with us.”
- Show your interest in the field or organization: “I am very interested in learning more about the internship program you mentioned. Is there an internship coordinator in your organization with whom I might speak?”
- Get the contact information and, if appropriate, a recommendation: “May I say that you referred me to her?”
- Express your gratitude: “Thank you very much, Mr. Gates. And again, thanks for taking time to speak with us.”
Networking Through Social Media
Incorporating social networks into your job search is a must if you want to make sure you’re tapping all sources for leads and job postings. Additionally, you want to make sure you are visible to recruiters who are turning to social networks to find their next hires. Learn how to present yourself professionally in ways that generate results. Realize that everything you say and upload online is fair game when it comes to employers evaluating you as a candidate.
Used wisely, online networking can yield great results. Keeping your profile current and staying active in discussions or groups will remind people that you are engaged in the job search process. The following sites and resources are recommended for developing your online presence and social networking strategies.
LinkedIn is a vehicle for professional networking, allowing you to connect to people and see their profiles. Recruiters are starting to use LinkedIn as the main place for sourcing candidates. They can see professional profiles which include skills, experiences, and recommendations.
There are many ways you can use LinkedIn in a job search:
- Organization Search:
- Find contacts within specific organizations.
- Search for organizations and find people connected.
- Ask personal contacts to connect you to people associated with organizations.
- For a monthly fee, the site allows you to email (via InMail) those with whom you do not share a contact.
- Job Postings: Use LinkedIn Jobs to harness the power of your network to uncover insights such as whom you know at a company, providing you an edge in your job search.
- InMail: Email your contacts through the site during a job search to let them know your situation and ask for help or contacts they might be able to connect you with.
- Twitter Link: LinkedIn has the ability to pull and post your conversations from Twitter. Anyone not on Twitter can see what you are tweeting about.
- Recommendations: Accumulate recommendations in your profile from previous employers and associates. This is a great way to speak to your strengths.
- Status updates: Similar to Facebook, LinkedIn has status updates. This is a great way to keep your connections apprised of what you’ve been doing.
- Groups: Most professional associations, schools, and alumni associations have groups you can join. Becoming part of a LinkedIn group puts you in contact with even more contacts, job postings and conversations targeted to your specific interests and background.
Twitter allows you to connect with people by “following them” and/or having them “follow you.” This connection can be based on common interests or experiences and is a great way to participate in online networking. By conducting Twitter searches and following recruiters, you will start to learn a lot about them and their companies. Many organizations post their open positions on their Twitter feed.
Creating a profile
Before you follow anyone on Twitter, you need a completed profile. Have a short bio and a link to a site that recruiters can go to for more information (e.g., your LinkedIn profile).
Using Twitter in your job search
- Basic networking: You can connect to people who are involved in areas of interest and hear about jobs available at companies of interest.
- Job postings: You can connect with people who know about jobs that might not be posted. You can also “follow” specific Twitter jobs channels. “Following” a specific jobs channel will keep you in the know when a new position opens and is tweeted.
- Connecting: When people or organizations follow you or you follow them, read their bios. If they work somewhere you might be interested in, or, if you think they might connect you to others, get in touch with them. They may decline or not respond to your request, but people are typically open to helping where they can.
- Reaching out: Reach out to people you want to network with and engage them with a question like “I’m looking to break into social media. Is there anyone you can think of to refer me to for more information?”
- Twitter name: It is recommended that your Twitter name be your actual name, as it will help in search results.
- Building followers and credibility: Some people get jobs on Twitter by having hundreds of followers. However, remember that you will need to build not only followers, but trust, credibility, and relationships over time. People will then be more inclined to help you.
Below are a couple of ways to use Facebook effectively for professional networking:
- Status Update: If you are in a job search, you can do frequent status updates (professional and positive) relating to your search to keep it at the forefront of your friends’ minds.
- Notes: You can post a “note” on Facebook to explain your job search situation and what you’re seeking. A note tends to stay on screens longer than a status update and you can write more. Make sure to keep the note professional as it is possible for a potential employer to see what you have written.