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We've all heard that people get jobs because of who they know and it's true!
Making professional connections, also known as "Networking" is the key to uncovering that "hidden job market." For some, the idea of networking brings to mind cheesy events where everyone schmoozes and hands out business cards. Events like that do exist (and can be very beneficial), but that is only one way to network. The reality is that you have already been networking, you just didn't know it! Unless you have been living in isolation, you already have a network of people you are connected to -- family, friends, professors, internship colleagues and supervisors, etc -- these are the people can have conversations with as you begin your job search. Networking involves staying in touch with people to share career planning ideas and track job openings. Many jobs are filled through networking.
Here are some ideas to create (and organize) your network:
Who do you already know? List names of potential contacts who could help you define your career or land a job. Your list may include but isn't limited to:
- Family and their friends
- Friends and their families
- Voluntary Affiliations (clubs, honorary organizations, etc.)
- Professors, Advisors, Coaches
- PLU Alumni
- Former work colleagues
How are you connecting with your network?
- Develop a system for tracking your contacts. Each time you speak to a person on your contact list, write brief notes detailing your discussion and any further actions you plan to take for follow-up.
- Are you on Linked In? This is a great way to develop a professional online presence and also allows you to connect with people in a more professional format -- not just on Facebook! You can also join professional groups on Linked In which is an easy way to broaden your network.
Can you talk about what you are looking for?
Having a network of professional contacts is not the end goal. If you are not able to articulate what you are looking for (even in a general way) and what skills you have to offer, your network won't be able to help you get anywhere. Take time to reflect and develop a 30 second commercial that you can easily share with others that spells out your career goal. For example, "After I graduate, I plan to work in the travel business. I’m looking for an internship in a travel agency that helps business people arrange international trips. Do you know of any agencies that take interns?”