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What the Heck is Networking?

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You’ll often hear people say that you need to network to find a job. What is networking and how do you do it effectively?

What is networking?

Networking is developing professional contacts that may be able to help you find a job after you graduate. Networking isn’t just meeting people. It’s about developing relationships with people that might become your coworkers, employers, or friends.

Why should you network?

As many as 60% of jobs occur in a “hidden job market” where roles aren’t always advertised. You have to know someone on the inside to gain access to these jobs.

How do you develop a network?

  • Visit the career services center at your school. They offer tons of services, from job search assistance to resume help. They also have a network of alumni that they may be able to connect you with.
  • Go to class. But don’t just go, make yourself known to the professor. Sit up front, ask questions, and go to office hours. You never know who your professor knows. They often have tons of connections, from colleagues in the field to former students that they may be able to connect you with.
  • Use LinkedIn. Use it to connect with people that you’ve met, professors you’ve had, coworkers, etc. You never know when you might need to contact someone.
  • Attend networking events. If your school holds a networking event, go!
  • Join a club on campus related to your major.
  • Do an internship or volunteer. You might meet people that can help you in the future.
  • Make a list of family members, friends, co-workers, classmates, student organization members, etc. that you can talk to about your career interests.
  • Join a professional organization as a student member. Students can often join professional organizations for free or at a reduced rate.

How do you network?

  • Prepare an elevator speech. An elevator speech is a 30-second speech about who you are, what you’re studying and what you’re interested in doing after graduating.
  • Bring business cards. You can get cards made for cheap online. Make sure your card has details like the name of your school and your expected graduation date. Also include your email, phone number, LinkedIn or blog if you have them.
  • Collect business cards so you can remember later who you talked to.

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