Networking is the process of building and maintaining mutually positive relationships with family, friends, alumni, and other professionals to gain information, learn about opportunities, and connect with others for professional growth. Networking gives you an advantage in a job or internship search by connecting you to contacts within specific companies and industries who can support your learning, growth, and ideally your candidacy.
Networking connects you with individuals who share common interests and experiences. In fact, nearly 80% of all jobs are filled through networking! Communicating your story with potential contacts and growing your network can help you grow in your current role and uncover new opportunities that you may not be aware of.
Who Should I Connect With?
- Start with family and friends. Leverage the people you already know through work, school, etc.
- Connect with your peers. Talk with people you know through sports, clubs, honor societies, etc.
- Reach out to Alumni. There are multiple ways to connect with U of R Alumni through The Meliora Collective, Linkedln, Handshake, CareerShift, or Social Media!
- Contact industry-specific professionals. Reach out to people from previous jobs, internships, or research, or connect to them through industry associations, conferences, or work groups.
- Attend recruiting events and career fairs. Meet with potential employers and start gathering names or referrals.
PreparationIn order to effectively network you first need to know yourself. First, identify your skills, interests, and qualifications as they relate to any potential careers or industries. Set specific short-term goals that are attainable and related to your internship or job search, then research potential careers and individuals who work in the industries you are targeting. You can then begin the process of networking by talking with people you know so that they can reach out to people within their circles. Once you’ve laid the groundwork you can begin to create your “elevator pitch”. Think about what you want from the individual or group, what advice you’re seeking, what information about the organization or industry is important to you, and who you might contacts.
Basic Steps for an “Elevator Pitch”
- Introduce yourself (name, major, career goals, why you’re talking with them).
- Make a connection to them and their career, industry, profession, or organization.
- Ask for consideration, advice, or information on where to go next – have a call to action.
Tips & RemindersKeep an updated document of individuals and interactions so that you can stay in touch with important contacts. Remember that networking is an ongoing process and that patience and persistence eventually pay off! Start to get comfortable hearing “no” while fighting for the “yes” and understand that rejection doesn’t necessarily mean the end of a relationship. Always remain polite and professional and be sure to thank your contact(s) after your conversation/meeting within 24 hours, no later.
Sample Networking Letters