Building Your Professional Network

Networking is just one aspect of a job search that allows you to make connections and contacts through other people and platforms. Networking is an effective way to narrow or expand your job search. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that up to 80% of jobs are filled through networking. There are several forms of networking that exist to help you in exploring, connecting, and landing a job in your desired field:

Listen to our Networking 101 presentation (PPTX)!

 Personal Contact:

  • Family, friends, and even former employers and/or co-workers are great sources when starting a job search.

      • These contacts may have connections with companies or employers within your desired field.

      • They may also know your character and work-ethic more-so than other contacts.

  • Professors, Faculty, and Staff at your College or University may also provide contacts and connections within your field of interest or even in career fields you may have not considered.
      • If a positive relationship is established between you and the professor, faculty, or staff member, you may be able to obtain their contact information to add to your reference list for a recommendation letter.
      • Potential employers may recognize a contact on your reference list and establish a connection with you.
  • Classmates and Alumni could also potentially aid in establishing contacts and connections for your job search.
      • Whether its school pride or a common field of study that establishes a connection, use past and present students to gain insight about potential career paths and the steps to take.
  • Other Professionals such as your doctor, dentist, or local business owners may also help you network.
  • Be sure to develop and practice a 30 second to 1 minute “elevator pitch” to allow for smooth and effective introductions at a moment’s notice. Give a brief background about your school, major and what kind of position you are seeking.

**The Key: Most people are happy to help…but you must ask!

Social Media or the Internet:

  • Several social media sites may aid when establishing contacts and connections within your desired field:
  • LinkedIn is a great source used for networking
        • Creating a profile (it’s free!) and requesting contacts (friends, family, employers, etc.) may help in establishing future connections. Visit the Shawnee State University Alumni Group Linkedin page to see what SSU students and graduates can do for your job search experience.
        • According to Business2Community.com (2014), 89% of job recruiters have hired someone through LinkedIn.
  • Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest feeds can also be effective ways to network
        • Large networks allow for greater opportunities to make connections. In fact, Business2Community.com reports that there are up to 15 million brands and organizations on Facebook alone.
        • Emphasize key words and hashtags on your online profiles to increase your chances of popping up in an employer-based-search.
        • Join groups relating to your desired field of interest and answer questions and comment on posts.
        • Clean-up your online profile and posts of any profanities or photos that seem inappropriate. Business2Community.com reports that 93% of recruiters are likely to look at candidates online profiles.
        • However, Forbes.com reports that most hiring managers do not view profiles to find negative qualities about candidates, but to find characteristics that give an added advantage from other candidates.
        • Be cautious of your privacy settings. If your social media content is “public,” be sure you have appropriate posts. 44% of job recruiters claimed that posts related to drinking and drug use made them reconsider potential candidates.

Career Fairs

    • Job Fairs, such as Jobapalooza and JobFest, are great opportunities to meet job recruiters and establish connections in your career field.
      • Click here for more information on our upcoming events

Volunteer, Fundraising, or Community Events

      • Working with community leaders in various settings (churches, schools, animal shelters, local fundraisers, etc.) may lead to meeting influential individuals in your desired field.
    • This type of environment is more relaxed and allows for the opportunity for friendly and more open conversations to present themselves.
    • Introduce yourself to someone you have never met and strike-up a conversation; you never know what opportunities may arise.

General Tips and Tricks

  • Print Business Cards—even though the idea seems outdated, it’s not. Sometimes physical copies of your contact information can make a difference. Be sure to list your social media accounts, email, and phone number so connecting is simple.
  • Keep copies of your résumé and business cards with you at all times. Carry a few copies in a personal bag or wallet and/or keep copies in your car. Also ask for business cards from the people you meet with.
  • At networking events, do not talk about yourself too much. Be sure to ask others questions and listen attentively.
  • Continue to network even if you land a job. Future opportunities could arise.

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