Networking is an essential tool for job seekers. It might be one of the most efficient way to guide you through getting your dream job. Networking is not just a good way to secure jobs, it is also a tool that help you in various aspects in your career, from moving up the corporate ladder to meeting your future life partner. You may think you have plenty of time to pick up this skill before stepping into the corporate world. However, cultivating this habit as early as possible can help you make the most out of your connections in college and beyond. Here are a few tips to help you get started on the art of networking.
- Build a contact list
Networking is an active, on-going process in which you identify people who can provide information, advice, and best of all- more contacts! Some ways to identify and make new contacts include: Extra-curricular activities that helps you connect with different people from different background and area of specialization as well as social networking sites like Facebook, Linkedin which enable you to join common interest groups.
- Planning is everything
Once you have identified the various avenues that can present you with opportunities to network, the next step is to target specific individuals whom you think establishing a relationship with can benefit you in the long run. To build up your confidence level, you can start by connecting with people that are more approachable, like your peers or mutual friends.
- Preparing to make contact
Once you have made the necessary arrangements, you should think relevant questions to ask your potential contacts. If they work in an industry you are interested to join, you should first research about the industry and then tailor made your questions to find out important information that you can’t find from anywhere else. Some questions to ask include: opportunities for entry level or internship opportunities, career challenges, sources of job satisfaction, personal and professional development. Avoid asking about salary, unless the contact voluntarily discloses his /her salary range.
- Follow up
Keeping in touch with your contact is the key to maintaining a relationship. You can occasionally follow-up with thank you notes and updates on your career choices. By building long term relationship, you will have created a pool of individuals you can later use as referrals in your resume to get a job or internship opportunities. However, ensure that you have asked for permission before doing so.
- Ask about vacancies
You may ask your contacts if you are allowed to visit their workplaces, or if you can work part time there during your semester break to gain some hands-on experience of the industry that they work in. If they are still in the company after you have graduated from college, you could even send them a copy of your resume to pass on to the hiring manager should there be any suitable openings.
It is never too early to start cultivating the practise of networking, so that it becomes a nature to you by the time you graduate from university. It is a vital skill to have as it may help you land to your dream job even without sending out a single formal job application.