Learn to network
Networking is all about discovering and utilizing connections
between people and tapping into your circle of friends, family,
professors, previous employers and Saint Martin's Alumni. Remember,
networking isn’t about schmoozing or begging for a job. Networking
is about making connections to:
- Gain information and advice about a career field, industry
- Learn more about possible job opportunities
- Connect with more people who are doing the things you want
- Tell people more about yourself
Why is networking important?
Over 80% of jobs are not posted online and are obtained through networking.
Networking plays a critical role in 70% of jobs across the country. Direct
contact with people, preferably face-to-face, is one of the most effective ways
to learn about career fields and discover internship and job opportunities. As
you begin networking as part of your job or internship search make sure you set
specific, attainable goals for yourself about what you want to accomplish.
- Finding networking contacts
- Connect with a contact
- Informational interviewing
Find networking contacts
One of the best ways to find networking contacts is through
LinkedIn. Commonly known as
the “professional Facebook”, LinkedIn is a great resource to
network, research companies of interest, locate informational
interview contacts, and improve your personal brand. This free site
opens the door to over 70 million professionals around the globe,
industries. Create an account today and begin expanding your
professional network. To make the most of your LinkedIn experience,
be sure to join the Saint Martin's Alumni group!
Another great way to make networking contacts is through your
friends and family. Talk to your parents, professors, high
school teachers, and Saint Martin's friends about what career
paths interest you. Ask them to help you make connections with
people who could tell you more about the careers that interest
you. As you search for networking contacts, keep these helpful
tips in mind:
- Share information, ideas, resources, and
contacts with others. Networking is a two way
- Know basic information about careers that
interest you. Think of everyone you meet as a
- Keep a well documented record of your
contacts – how, when, details of the
conversation and any follow up necessary – with
networking tracking tool.
Connect with a contact
Once you’ve found a networking contact, you need to reach out
to them to schedule an informational interview. Here is a sample
message you could use when it’s time to connect with a
networking contact. Make sure you include a specific question or
two in the email so the contact understands what you want to
discuss as well as your contact information.
Sample email or LinkedIn message
SMU Student Seeking Information
Dear Ms. Jones:
I found your name through the Saint Martin's Alumni group on
LinkedIn. As a senior at Saint Martin's, I am majoring in
psychology with a minor in English. After graduation I am
interested in pursuing a graduate degree in counseling and
working with children with behavioral problems and families in
transition. I see from your profile that this is your specialty
area. Would you be open to letting me email, call, or meet you
in person so that I can learn more about your career path? Like
you, I am currently in Lacey and would be available to meet at
your earliest convenience. I am free any day next week 2-5 p.m.
I appreciate your consideration of my request for advice, and I
look forward to hearing from you.
The best way to learn about a career is to talk to someone
who’s actually in it every day! After you’ve found connections
from your friends, family, and LinkedIn contact them to schedule
a brief face-to-face or phone informational interview.
The purpose of an informational interview is to learn more about
an industry or career field, not to ask for an internship or
job. When you call to schedule the informational interview tell
your contact about your interest in their field and your
curiosity to learn more.
Once the interview is scheduled you will need to prepare
insightful questions to ask your contact as well as explanations
about why you’re interested in this field. You can use this list
of questions to help you begin but make sure you also research
the company and prepare questions specific to their work. Make
sure you can clearly highlight why you want to take this career
path and what strengths you have to contribute to that specific
line of work. Remember, you’re not trying to get a job, just
trying to better understand the field while building your
professional network and practicing your interview skills.
In preparation for your informational interview, make sure you:
- Know your skills, interests, qualifications,
and goals and can articulate them.
- Have a 1 – 2 minute pitch prepared that
succinctly describes your background and what
your goals are. If you need help developing your
elevator speech, please contact our office.
- Know what it is you want to take away from
the conversation. Be polite, professional, and
- Send thank you notes after meetings or
conversations. Keep in touch.
- After being introduced to new people,
follow-up with a short communication such as an
e-mail or a phone call.
- As you begin to reach out to your network,
consider using this
networking tracking tool to help you keep
all of your opportunities and contacts in order.
Wake Forest University's Office of Career and Professional