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Networking is a crucial element of job hunting because many jobs are never advertised. Employers prefer to interview and hire people referred to them by friends, family, or current employees.

Here are some tips for building and expanding your network, practicing good networking etiquette and effective communication, and being prepared for unexpected opportunities.

Build and expand your network

  • Visit or join a professional association in the field you wish to pursue. Many members are eager to help job seekers and often know employers with open positions.
  • 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.
  • Talk with your friends, family, teachers, professors, former supervisor or managers. Practice selling yourself first to those who know you.

Follow good networking etiquette

  • Always look for opportunities to give something back. Be prepared to offer something of value to those who are taking time to help you.
  • When gathering information about your field or about specific opportunities, ask for information, not for a job. Find out more about informational interviews.
  • Keep your promises. When you tell someone you will call, be sure to follow up. If they’re difficult to reach, keep trying. It’s your responsibility to connect.

Practice effective communication

  • Keep your contacts informed about your efforts in the job search through phone calls or brief handwritten notes.
  • Be sure to send a thank-you letter within 24 hours of an interview.
  • Keep your conversations friendly but businesslike. Give a brief summary of your objectives, and then explain how your accomplishments support this objective. 

Be prepared for unexpected opportunities

  • When networking, you’ll be introduced to new contacts frequently, often at a moment’s notice. Make sure you’re ready to communicate your job search objective, strengths, etc.
  • Have business cards and copies of your resume with you at all times. Opportunities will arise anywhere and everywhere.

Source: Creative Job Search, a publication of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

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Department of Labor CareerOneStop is sponsored by the U. S. Department of Labor,
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