Networking, or building strong relationships with people who
can assist you with your career goals, is important throughout your
career, but during a job search it is crucial. The connections
you make or have in place can help you in a number of ways, such as
providing job leads including unadvertised openings, reviewing your
resume or offering insight on career fields. So, how do you
begin building your professional network? Follow these
- Write and practice your elevator speech, a short explanation of
your background and qualifications, as well as a description of the
type of position you are looking for.
- Brainstorm a list of everyone you know, such as your friends,
family, neighbors, past coworkers, past bosses, college alumni,
etc. You will start networking with those you know.
- Once you form your list of contacts, call a few people each
day. Let them know you are looking for a position and utilize
your elevator speech. Before you hang up, ask if the contact
knows of any openings or can recommend someone else you can talk
to. Once you’ve made a few calls, it will get
- After a call, send a thank you to each contact in
writing. E-mail is fine.
- Attend formal networking events, such as a business or
association meeting. Others will be attending with the same
purpose, so these events tend to be an easy target for
networking. If you feel uncomfortable striking up a
conversation, consider volunteering to work a registration table or
inviting a friend to join you.
- Attend as many social events as you can and casually mention
your job search at social events.
- Take advantage of the many online networking opportunities now
available, such as LinkedIn and Facebook and set up a professional
- Keep track of who you’ve contacted or met and how, so you can
refer to this later.
- After you begin developing your network, keep in touch with
your contacts. Even if it’s a brief e-mail or phone call,
don’t just rely on your network during a job search.
Remember, when building a network, the quality of your
contacts is more important than the quantity. In addition,
your network is a two-way street. You must be willing to put
in to your network what you get out of it. For example, if you
learn of a job lead or event that may be of interest to a contact,
forward it on. Most importantly, have your network in
place before you need it. A quality network takes time to