Networking is about building relationships. You listen and learn about the other person. You think about mutual interests and the ways you can support them while they help you. As with any friendship, respect their limits on the amount and type of interaction. Here are some ways to support your contacts:
- Take notes during your conversations. Follow up by e-mail, telephone, mail, or text message.
- Send them an article about something you know is important to them.
- Show an interest in their personal life. Remember the names and interests of people important to them.
- Come up with a solution to a problem they shared with you. For example, someone you know used an effective service provider or vendor to solve a work issue.
- Stay in contact with people from your past.
- Let them know you are searching for a job. Tell them what is working and in which specific areas you could use help.
- Update them on those things where you share a common interest.
- Let your contacts know that you appreciate the time they spend with you as well as their knowledge and opinion.
- If someone has been especially helpful to you, offer to take them out for coffee or a meal on your dime.
- Once you get a job, thank everyone who was helpful to you. Give them your new contact information.
- Don't lose touch! Networking is not just about getting a job. It's about ongoing career development and support.
Always think about how to expand your network.
- Join a professional or business association. They are one of the best ways to learn about trends and unadvertised jobs. Many members are eager to help job seekers and often know employers with open positions. Association listings can be found online or at your local library. Find your local library using CareerOneStop's Find a Library tool.
- Join online networking websites. These can connect you with potential jobs, colleagues, and business opportunities.
- Contact your college alumni and career services offices. Alumni may be wiling to do informational interviews with graduates of their institution. Career services may have online job boards or other resources to help you.
- Find a mentor who has experience in the field you’re pursuing. Get their advice and use them as a sounding board for your thoughts and ideas. Ask to shadow them on the job.