Networking is one of the most important job search strategies throughout your career. Whether you are looking for your first job or internships, or you have been a working professional for decades, networking is an invaluable tool for finding job leads and securing interviews. Networking is essentially talking to people you know about potential business opportunities. Remember that networking works both ways, so always be willing to help out others, too.
There are many sources you can use to establish networking relationships:
- Friends and family
- School associates including classmates, teachers, advisors and counselors
- Former colleagues and employers
- Alumni associations
- Professional associations
In-person networking can be very effective, and there are many opportunities to meet new people who can become a part of your professional network.
Attend alumni events, which are a great place to meet fellow Jaspers and expand your network.
Join a Professional Association: Most industries have a professional association comprised of people who work in that field. There is typically a membership fee to join, but most offer a discounted rate for students. Professional associations typically host networking events throughout the year, as well as lectures and other professional development events. Visit rileyguide.com for more information about finding professional associations.
Volunteer: Volunteering is a great way to meet new people and expand your network. While volunteer work may not necessarily be related to your profession, you will have the opportunity to meet others and establish new relationships.
Mentor Program: The mentor program is a great way to be introduced to others in your field. As a student, your mentor can give you insight into the field and perhaps have you meet with their colleagues. As an alumnus, volunteering to be a mentor not only helps give back, but you have the opportunity to network with other mentors.
The advent of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have added another opportunity for networking. LinkedIn is particularly helpful for job searching because you can find others who work in a specific company or industry. Make sure to have your LinkedIn profile up to date and request others to write recommendations about you. Remember to always keep your social media profiles professional, and don’t post anything you wouldn’t feel comfortable having others know about.