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Networking In Person
Networking is the process of collecting and curating a list of contacts and developing relationships with them for both personal and professional success, and is the #1 employment search strategy. While social media use is essential to effective networking, it should never replace face-to-face interactions.
Develop a list of contacts
- Talk to the obvious people (your family, former co-workers, faculty, advisors) as well as people you wouldn't normally include in your employment search (your doctor, dentist, clergy, hairdresser). Use the Building a Network worksheet to get started.
- Attend career fairs and other industry specific networking events. Professional associations often have student chapters and membership rates. Association meetings are a great way to make contacts.
- Get involved and explore your interests. Do not limit yourself to just attending career fairs and professional events. Networking can be done at events associated with your personal interests, organized by social groups or religious institutions.
- Always be aware of how you act and what you say, both online and in person. You never know when there is a potential contact right in front of you.
- Prepare your one-minute elevator pitch and if a conversation lends itself, speak up and let people know that you are in the employment market.
- Follow up and don't let fear stop you from reaching out. Instead of thinking, “I don't want to impose on others.”, think, “Every contact I make brings me closer to finding my purpose and related employment.”
Solicit Your Contacts Assistance
- When contacting someone you don't know, be professional, explain your purpose, and respect their schedule. Always get permission to use a person's name and contact info if you wish to have them assist you in your job search.
- Give contacts a copy of your resume and explain the type of career you are seeking. The better they understand your interests and goals, the more effectively they can assist you.
- Never ask a contact for a job. Instead of asking “Can you get me a job at your law firm?”, ask: “Do you know of any openings at your firm?” Many organizations have employee referral programs and tap their own staff to help them find new hires.
- Don't ask inappropriate personal questions. This is a professional interaction and the impression you leave will determine how hard that contact will work on your behalf.
- If you schedule an informational interview, be sure to dress professionally and prepare questions to ask during the interview.
- Nurture relationships through periodic contact, saying "thank you", and letting your contacts know the results of your job search.
Recent surveys confirm that the majority of employers are extremely likely to look at social networking sites to screen candidates, and many will reconsider a candidate based on what they viewed in a social profile. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are the top three sites candidates are using to find opportunities.
Remember, as important as social media is, online methods should supplement, not replace, in-person networking techniques.
Tips for Employment Search Using Social Media
- Clean up your online presence. What do people find when they Google you? Never post unprofessional content including posts with profanity, discriminatory language, sexually suggestive material, or party pictures. Always proof your posts for spelling, grammatical and typographical errors.
- Use keywords. All of your social media profiles should include key words and emphasize industry specific jargon that a recruiter might type into a search engine to find a person like you. Find relevant words in advertisements that appeal to you and online profiles of people who have the positions you desire. Use hashtags effectively to communicate with companies and industry professionals.
- Reach Out. Join online groups to find leads, answer questions and build relationships. These groups could be Facebook pages for your alma mater, professional societies, associations or industry specific listservs . Answering questions from group members and commenting on the latest trends can help you network with industry peers who share common goals and find out about exclusive opportunities.
- Share. Share helpful articles, blog posts, YouTube videos, and links as a great way of showing support. People will often reciprocate and show support in return.
- Stay current. Status updates are another smart form of networking. Update LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter with information about events you’re attending, books you’re reading, and other career related news.
- Research companies. During an interview, it is critical to demonstrate that you have researched the organization. Review websites, LinkedIn profiles, and other social media related to the organization and people you will be meeting.
Create a Strong LinkedIn Profile
- LinkedIn is the leading social media website for career and employment search networking. Join LinkedIn by creating a free personal account.
» Build your network by requesting to connect with coworkers, classmates, friends, faculty, and professionals in your field. Also locate KSU alumni to find out where they live, work and what they do.
» Join career-specific groups with professionals in your areas of interest by going to the search bar in LinkedIn and choosing the "Groups" option. Type in the group name and select "Join Group". Keep in mind that some may be closed to students.
» Upload a professional photo to your page.
» Collect recommendations from work supervisors for your profile.
» Check LinkedIn stats (posted on the top of your profile page) to see how your page is doing. This is a great tool to help you see how many people have viewed your profile and where your profile ranks in relation to your contacts. The Profile Strength indicator also explicitly tells you what you can add to your profile for it to have more impact.
» Upload custom presentations, writing/art samples, links to websites, etc.
» Add your LinkedIn URL to the address section of your resume.
Using Twitter Effectively
- Twitter is a great tool for researching and connecting with industry experts and potential employers. Even if you set up a Twitter profile to “listen” more than you tweet, you’ll get enormous value out of the information you’ll discover. Plus, more organizations are now tweeting out their position postings.
» Choose your Twitter handle wisely and make sure it sounds professional.
» Follow companies related to your career goals and retweet their posts.
» Follow Twitter career feeds to find openings in your industry. Some popular feeds include: @jobfeed, @jobfest, @RecruiterTweets, @joblister, and @jobs_now for all positions. You can also look for openings and feeds related to your specific industry.
Use Facebook for Networking
- Employers are increasingly looking at Facebook profiles of applicants before offering them positions. It is important to make your Facebook profile professional too, even if it is only for personal use.
» Follow companies, groups and professional organizations related to your career goals and "Like” their posts.
» Whom you friend is a reflection of who you are. Be cognizant of the company you keep on Facebook because potential employers may take those things into account.
» Separate your personal and professional contacts on Facebook. Go to your list of friends and hover your cursor over the “Friends” button next to a contact’s name. There is an option to “Create New List.” You can add all your professional contacts to this list and restrict what posts they can see. This is a good way to use the same Facebook profile for both personal and professional use without having to create a new page for work contacts.
Sample Email for Networking
(Subject line: Use concise and informative language and consider using your kent.edu email address to maintain a high level of professionalism.)
Dear Ms. Jones,
I am a junior at Kent State University majoring in psychology and was given your name by Professor Smith as someone who could provide me with some career guidance. I have been considering a career in research and am intrigued by your study results. I have read many of your articles in Psychology Today and find your field of research fascinating. I would appreciate the opportunity to speak with you to learn more about how you entered the field of research as well as gain some insight into the profession. Additionally, I am considering an internship this summer and would be grateful for any advice and/or leads that you could provide.
I am hopeful that you might have a half an hour to speak with me either in person or on the phone about your career and background. I will call you within the next three days to arrange a meeting or a time for a phone conversation.
Thank you in advance for your help.
Kent Student (Use full name and appropriate contact information.)
Sample Phone Script for Networking
"Hi Mr. Johnson, my name is ____, and I am a senior at Kent State University majoring in Marketing.
I picked up your business card at your table at the Internship, Co-op and Career Fair and am interested in learning more about your industry. I am considering an internship and career in marketing for a non-profit organization and I noticed that your organization has had a great deal of success in public relations over the past five years.
Would you be available to meet with me so I can learn more about how you found your position and your opinions about the future of non-profit organizations? I'd be happy to come to your office to meet, or to speak on the phone if that is more convenient.
Is there a time in the next two weeks that works for you?"