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What is a Network and Networking?

A formal network is a web of systematically developed contacts and relationships. Networking is the process of developing those contacts, and provides a way to:

  • Exchange information
  • Increase confidence
  • Refine communication skills
  • Get advice and moral support
  • Meet new people
  • Form on-going professional relationships

What are the Benefits of Networking?

  • Learn about job openings
  • Increase interviewing confidence
  • Obtain job search advice
  • Gather industry information

Networking Activities that Help Build Your Confidence and Your Resume

Prepare a self-introduction or “elevator speech” (no longer than two minutes) which informs the listener of your knowledge, skills, and background. Always have your business cards handy!

  • Conduct informational interviews with professors, alumni, classmates
  • Join and become involved in professional associations
  • Attend structured networking events
  • Make cold calls to  professionals in your field of interest
  • Consider social situations networking opportunities
  • Attend and present at conferences

Using Online Social Networking Sites

Online social networking is one method or tool for establishing a professional network. Online networking, on sites such as LinkedIn or Plaxo, builds communities with others who share common interests or activities. Some benefits to professional online networking are:

  • Provides access to a large number of professionals as well as resources in your field
  • Eases ability to research an organization including its financial “health” and track record
  • Gives increased visibility; increases chances of  finding people with similar educational and work backgrounds
  • It’s immediate and can be done 24/7

Guidelines to Online Social Networking



Use professional networking sites (LinkedIn vs. Facebook)

Falsify or embellish information

Include a professional picture; remove any online information that is  unprofessional

Write negative remarks about organizations, employers, colleagues (or yourself!)

Create statements with key skills and accomplishments (similar to resume); ensure information is accurate and truthful

State you that you are in a job search if your current employer is not aware that you are

Use  industry specific key words

Provide updates on irrelevant activities

Networking With an Introverted Style

Respect your energy for people-time, whatever it may be.

Plan time before and after the connection to rejuvenate–alone or with a trusted friend. Don’t network every day or on days when you can predict your people contact to be heavy.

Use one-to-one networking strategies as much as possible.

If possible, limit or avoid opportunities for networking in large groups of people you don’t know or don’t know well (e.g., large lecture classes, professional meetings, and conferences). Remember, those highly social, opportunistic forms of networking are only ONE of many effective methods.

Use email when possible and appropriate.

Many people are on e-mail these days. Some folks prefer e-mail to phone or face-to-face contact. If you know someone never uses their e-mail or doesn’t like it, then don’t use it. Otherwise, introducing yourself to someone via e-mail and requesting a conversation at a later date is fine.  In some cases, your contact may even want to respond to your questions using e-mail.

Do as much “reading research” as possible before you network.

Information is power and it helps you feel more confident when you approach a contact. Visit departmental websites, ask for organizational reports or gather other promotional materials if you are exploring a particular job or department. If you are exploring a new career, you can read about “generic” career information online.

Write down questions and topics you want to cover.

It’s recommended that you write down questions you want to ask and/or topics you want to discuss in advance of the meeting. It’s also OK to refer to your notes during the conversation. Just let the person know what you are reading and why.

If possible, plan your networking contacts according to when your personal energy is highest.

Are you a morning person? A late afternoon person? Do you need to plan a half-day off or have a meeting on Monday morning, after a refreshing weekend? Think about when your energy level for communicating is highest and try as much as possible to meet then.

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