Networking is contacting friends, friends of friends, family members and colleagues to discuss new directions, generate career options, problem-solve for decision making, assess transferable skills, find job leads, shape up your resume, rehearse for interviews, gain access to role models and mentors and receive emotional support.
Begin by creating a networking plan.
- Research your chosen career field at libraries, bookstores and on the Internet.
- Ask friends about people they know in your field.
- Build a network of people to talk with about their work.
- Organize your system to track your networking activities and contact names.
- Prepare a personal pitch—a 30-second response to “Tell me a little about yourself.”
- Prepare other networking tools: resume, cover letters, etc.
Next, create a contact list. Try to write a list of fifty-plus people you could consider for networking purposes. Include some or all of the following:
- Friends and relatives
- Neighbors, current or former
- Employers and co-workers, current or former
- PTA members
- Teachers, including college professors and advisors
- Members/clergy of your church or religious institution
- College alumni and classmates from any grade level
- Social acquaintances
- Doctors, dentists, lawyers
- Business club members and executives.
Next, prioritize each contact. A good contact likes you and has a reason to want to help you. He/she is successful in his/her field, aware of the current job market and knows a lot of people.
Finally, start calling. Begin by calling high-priority contacts and work your way through the list. Be prepared to give them your 30-second pitch. This is appropriate for calls to potential employers and to friends and acquaintances on your networking list. The key is to ask them for help. Never directly ask for a job; only seek referrals or information about any open positions. IBI