- Start networking by talking with those around you.
- Use the contacts you already have.
- Develop and nurture new relationships.
George Shinn once said, "There is no such thing as a self-made man. You will reach your goal only with the help of others."
This is as evident in your job search as it is in anything else in life. Your network of business associates, family members and friends is an awesome tool that could ultimately help you land a job, gain employment information and obtain employer introductions or leads. Follow these steps to cultivate your contacts. You never know — an opportunity just may pop up come springtime.
Step 1: Build a List of Contacts
If you already have a list of contacts to call upon, you’re one step ahead of the game. If you don’t, you shouldn’t be discouraged. There are many ways to quickly get a list together.
If you’re starting from scratch, you need to think of the names and contact information of everyone you know. Include:
- Work and business coworkers, supervisors and acquaintances
- Church members
- Club, fraternity and sorority affiliations
Step 2: Categorize
Now that you’ve created a list of contacts, you need to organize them. Doing this up-front will simplify the searching process. Sample categories include: family, friends and work.
Inevitably, there will be contacts in your list that will be more beneficial than others, and you will want to flag them. You will want to nurture these invaluable relationships.
Step 3: Add New Contacts
Once you have your list of contacts organized, you may notice that some categories, directly related to your career aspirations, may need boosting or expansion. For instance, let’s say you are trying to break into the human resources field, but you do not know anyone working in this area. You will want to increase your HR contacts and you can do so by:
- Researching, attending and becoming a member of professional organizations.
- Requesting informational interviews with individuals in positions that interest you.
- Talking with professors.
- Meeting with university alumni.
Essentially, by making the effort and creatively planning on how to place yourself in targeted social and professional circles, you will gain contacts and build up your contact list.
Step 4: Approach Your Contacts
Often, making the first contact with strangers is challenging. Each person’s approach style is unique. The gist is to have a story or goal in place before making your approach. Here’s an example of an opening:
Hello, Professor Roberts. I am Jane Doe, a graphics student of yours. I am interested in working in the computer animation industry. My interest in this area began after seeing Final Fantasy and Toy Story. I’m seeking a summer internship, and I was hoping you could recommend some companies or people for me to contact about doing so.
Step 5: Nurture Relationships
Now that you have contacts, it is important to foster ongoing relationships with them. Because people play a critical role in opportunities that come your way, spend the time to create reciprocal relationships.
Additionally, use your discretion when deciding how often to follow up with your network. The idea is to continue to nurture your contacts for years to come.
And the Most Important Step: Start Today
Do not wait for a crisis to force you to create your contact list; relationships take time to build. When your relationships flourish, others will help you find opportunities quicker than you could ever hope to find on your own. Starting now will get you one step closer to making your dream job come true.