Networking is about relationship building. It is the process of making professional connections to gather information and expand knowledge of job and internship opportunities, careers and industries, graduate and professional schools, and/or geographical areas of interest.
The purpose of a professional network is to develop a support unit to help you as you grow as a professional. This, in turn, can help you aid others in the future. Networking can also assist you in collecting information about the current job market, as well as help open doors to job leads and referrals.
Begin With a Strong Base
- Obtain a specific idea of internship/career choice
- Research basic information about the employer and company, and inquire more while networking
- A strong, first impression that shows employer you have what they seek in an employee
- Give your 30-second (tailored) elevator speech/pitch
Start With Those You Know, Then Add Those Outside Your Immediate Experience
- Start with making connections with employers at the fair, inquire about possible connections with other company employees
Develop Contact Names, Titles, Companies, Contact Information
- Collect business cards at all fairs, info sessions and employer events
- Utilize Career Services staff, professors, advisors, family, friends, classmates and professionals in your field, as well as past and present co-workers, bosses, managers and U of I alumni
- Be specific about YOUR goals for the meeting
- Always have copies of your resume with you
- Prepare questions related to the goals you have for the meeting
- Ask if you can schedule a follow-up 30 minute informational interview
Follow Up, Follow Up, Follow Up ...
- Always write a thank you note (card or email)
- Keep the person informed of how your search or career-related decision is going
- U of I Office of Alumni Relations – Find ways to connect with other Vandals
- Find highly desired and unadvertised jobs. Many employers go through friends or coworkers to fill positions before they advertise the job.
- Get referred to a job from a contact gives you an edge on other applicants.
- Contacts can provide referrals or insider information about companies. They can provide information on career fields you might want to explore.
- Your network can give you advice on where to look for jobs or to review your resume.
- Anyone who can assist you with a job search or in your educational or career plans.
- Career Services staff, professors, advisors, U of I alumni, the greater Vandal family and community, friends and classmates
- Professionals working in your field
- Past and present co-workers and supervisors
- Student and professional associations
- Members of local organizations (e.g., young professional networks)
- Friends on social media (e.g., LinkedIn)
- Contacts from Vandal Networking Nights, employer on-campus recruiting events, job and graduate school fairs.
Networking involves many layers and degrees of separation. Remember to think outside the box. Include and reach out to your doctor, dentist or other medical professional, your barber or hair stylist, the local barista, airline personnel, your local corner store, just to name a few.
These are people that intersect with many of the exact people you will want to (or should) know through their everyday occupations. They have a lot of insider information and leads. You never know who may be connected to the people in your network, or who can help open a career door for you.
- – The world's largest professional network with 225 million members in over 200 countries and territories around the globe. Their mission is simple: connect the world's professionals to make them more productive and successful through people, jobs, news, updates, and insights that help you be great at what you do.
- – Networking tips and pointers, tips for social media etiquette, and advice for networking at conferences and meetings.
- – Advice on building a network in five steps.
- – Article on the art of career and job-search networking, and critical networking tools for job-seekers
- – This organization provides business & social networking, professional & leadership development, and community & civic involvement opportunities.