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THE POWER OF NETWORKING

What is Networking?

Networking is simply gathering information from and making contacts through the people you already know. How do you start establishing a network? After you have professional objectives in mind, begin talking to people you know such as:

  • Former Instructors and Faculty
  • Classmates and Professors from schools you have attended
  • Former Employers
  • Friends and Family
  • Classmates and Professors
  • Colleagues from professional, community and religious groups.

The key to creating a network is to obtain the names of at least two additional contacts each time you talk to someone. The types of questions you should ask when obtaining further contacts are:

  • What organizations should I investigate.
  • Do you know anyone who works in or is associated with my field of interest?
  • May I mention your name when contacting other people or organizations?
     

Network Constantly

More jobs are obtained through someone you know than any other way. Make a list of family, friends, faculty, college and high school alumni networks. Let them know what you are trying to accomplish and ask their advice. When talking with your contacts, it’s important NOT to ask them for a job. Rather, ask their advice on what companies are hiring and who you might talk to in those companies.

A word of caution about social networking websites: Be careful of the information posted on facebook.com, myspace.com and other social networking sites. Employers can use this avenue in screening applicants, so how your profile is presented could make a difference.

NETWORKING TIPS:

Develop A Tracking System
Develop a method of keeping track of each conversation, phone call, letter, interview, follow-up and promise.

Be Professional
As you begin to make professional contacts, make sure you dress and act the part. Conduct yourself in a manner that will convince your professional contact that you can do the job. This will also help you obtain other referrals much more easily.

Return The Favor
Networking is a give and take proposition. Send Thank You letters after each meeting or express it through a phone conversation. Keep in touch with members of your network and give back to it whenever possible.
 

Informational Interviews

You can collect information on your chosen field via informational interviewing. Informational interviewing is simply asking questions of different members of your network. Remember to ask for the names of at least two more contacts during an informational interview.

Questions To Ask During An Informational Interview

  • What aspect of your job was the biggest challenge when you first started?
  • What qualifications do you seek in new employees?
  • If you could start over again in this field, what would you do differently?
  • Should I have a particular certification or achieve a higher level degree in order to advance in this field ?
  • How can I make myself a more desirable job candidate?
  • What kinds of job titles would I probably have in this filed?
  • What life experiences have most helped you acquire and develop knowledge of this field?
  • Are there any professional groups you would recommend I join?
  • How do you see this industry in the future?
  • Who else should I contact within the field?
     

EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION PRINCIPLES AND STRATEGIES

PROJECT A POSTIVE ATTITUDE
This may sound basic, but it is very important. What is your perception of someone that has a good attitude versus that of someone that has a bad attitude? Think about it. Most (if not all) would agree that they prefer to work with someone that has a positive attitude. For better or worse, many times someone’s perception of you is stronger than the actual facts. Having a negative attitude can cloud your manager’s view of your ability. You may be competent at your job but do you take an interest in your work? Do you show enthusiasm? Do you take initiative? Having a positive attitude will not only serve you well in your first job, but throughout your entire career. Often opportunities for advancement and leader ship roles hinge on your overall attitude.
 

DEVELOP YOUR COMMUNICATION SKILLS
Every job, including technical ones, requires some degree of communication skills. Learn to be a good listener to ensure you fully understand instructions and to show that you are interested. Demonstrate patience and sensitivity with others, and avoid public confrontation and complaining. Learn to be tactful when working on a team, and consider what others on the team have to say and work with them. Above all, treat people as you would like to be treated. With written work, be sure you’ve proofread it carefully for content, spelling and grammar before submitting it.
 

COMMUNICATING BY PHONE
  • Call during typical business hours
  • Call form a quiet location, or reduce/eliminate background noise.
  • Notify people when they are on speakerphone.
  • Make sure voice mail messages are concise. Slowly and clearly state your full name, telephone number (extension if applicable), name of your company and reason for calling.
  • Make sure your voicemail greeting is understandable and that you speak slowly when recording it.
     
COMMUNICATING BY EMAIL
  • Write in complete sentences and don't’ use slang.
  • Use the subject line to specify the point of the message (not to informal greeting).
  • Structure your e-mails like a business letter and include greetings and closings.
  • Review the content of your email to make sure the point of the message is obvious.
  • Be sure to proofread for grammar and spelling. Spell-check is a helpful tool, but you also need to visually proof all documents.