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Networking

 

How to Network

Develop a List of Possible Contacts
  • Generate contacts from both professional and personal circles.
  • People who have published articles in newspapers or journals in your field
  • Professional associations
  • Family, friends, professors, neighbors, classmates, etc.

 

Ask for an Informational Interview

Assume that the person is very busy but will enjoy giving you advice. You can do this by:

  • Phone
  • Email
  • Professional/social networking sites
  • In person

 

Prepare Yourself

Read about your contact's field and organization in order to get the most out of your meeting. Show your interest by building a target list of 5-10 organizations in which you are interested and create a list of questions that will demonstrate your focus. Set personals goals for the meeting. Typical goals for an informational interview include:

  • Learning more about the career path you're considering
  • Presenting your background and interests clearly
  • Learning more about the company itself
  • Obtaining referrals

 

Conduct an Effective Meeting

  • Keep to the time limit you requested
  • You are the one who initiated contact and it is your role to ask questions to learn what you need to know
  • Demonstrate courtesy and express appreciation for your contact's time and energy
  • Develop rapport, and then ask for referrals
  • Present your interests and needs in a concise and specific way, this will help your contact feel more confident in referring you to colleagues for similar information meetings

 

Follow Up

Send a typed or handwritten thank you note on quality paper, including your address and phone. Email thank you notes are also fine but less personable. Create a tracking system to update your contacts or reconnect periodically.

 

Sample Networking Questions

Whether a planned or chance meeting, you should always have an arsenal of questions to ask a potential contact. Ask questions and build the relationship (let them be the expert).

  • "What kinds of projects do you work on?"
  • "What led you to this position?"
  • "What do you like most and least about your work?"
  • "What are the personal qualities of people who are successful in this field?"
  • "How would you describe a typical week in terms of the percentage of time spent on the different parts of your job?"
  • "What kinds of backgrounds do people in this organization (field) have?"
  • "What are the most pressing needs and issues for your department within the overall organization?"
 
Other Possible Questions
  • "What are typical career paths in this field?"
  • "I've built a target list of organizations in this field. Would you be willing to look at my list and give me any suggestions you might have?"
  • "In what other kinds of organizations do (health educators) work?"
  • "Given my background and interests, are there other organizations you might suggest I explore?"
  • "How would you advise me to get started in building experience in this field?"
  • "What organizations hire entry level people in (advertising)?"
  • "What’s your perspective for the next few years in terms of job prospects in this field?"
  • "Are there conferences which might be useful for newcomers to attend? A professional association I could join as a student?"
  • "Are there certain classes or training programs you would recommend for building experience for this type of position?"
  • "What kind of training is provided for new staff?"
  • "How is performance evaluated? What is rewarded?"
  • "What is the work environment like in terms of pressure, deadlines, new projects, teamwork vs. independent work, etc.?"
  • "What are typical work schedules here? Is it common to work nights/weekends?"
  • "Is it possible to balance career and personal life reasonably well here?"
 
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LinkedIn Networking Guide

When you’re job searching, and even if you’re not currently seeking employment, LinkedIn is the one site you should be using to enhance your job search and boost your career prospects. The best way to do that is to make sure you are using the full power of LinkedIn to maximize your employment potential. Here are ten tips on optimizing your job hunting experience on LinkedIn:

 

1. Edit your Profile.

The first step is to make sure your LinkedIn Profile is complete.  The more detailed your LinkedIn profile, the more chances you will have to be found and to be contacted. This is important because your profile is what you use to connect with people how you get found on LinkedIn. 

 

Complete your LinkedIn profile as carefully as you write your resume and provide prospective employers with detailed information on your skills and experience.  If you’re currently unemployed, list your current position as “Open to opportunities”. If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, sign-up.

 

2. Include a Photo.

You can add a photo (a head shot is recommended) to your LinkedIn profile. Note that the photo can be no larger than 80×80 pixels.  Do make sure your photo represents the professional you, not the personal you, because LinkedIn is all about professional networking.

 

3. Professional Summary.

The Professional Summary section of your profile is a good way to highlight your experience. Select an Industry, because recruiters often use that field to search. Don’t forget the Headline, because that’s right at the top of the page when someone views your profile. It’s your first chance to make a good impression.

 

4. Include Keywords and Skills.

Include the keywords and skills from your resume in your profile. This will make it easier for your profile to be found in search results.

 

5. Contact Settings.

Your contact settings let your connections (and hiring managers and recruiters) know your availability. Options include: career opportunities, consulting offers, new ventures, job inquiries, and reference requests.

 

Even if you’re not actively seeking a new job, it’s important to be flexible, because you never know when an opportunity to good to pass up might come along.

 

6. Profile Website Links.

The Links section of your profile is a good way to provide even more information to potential employers and to your contacts.  If you have blog or a personal web site that is business related, include those links in the Links section of your profile.

 

7. LinkedIn Applications.

LinkedIn Applications are a terrific way to share even more information in your profile. The blog applications enable users to feed their blog directly to their profile, so other LinkedIn users can see the most current posts automatically.

 

8. Your Public Profile.

Don’t forget to make your profile public – that’s how the world can find it.  Also, customizing your URL will give you a link that’s easy to share.

 

9. Grow Your Network.

Connect with other members and build your network. You can find connections you’ve worked with, done business with, went to school with, or are otherwise affiliated with.

The more connections you have, the more opportunities you have, but don’t randomly connect with people you don’t know. The point is to connect with people you do know, so they can help you and vice versa.

 

10. Get Recommendations.

To a potential employer, a LinkedIn recommendation is an opportunity to read a reference in advance. Having strong references can only help you when it comes to getting selected for an interview or for a job.  The best way to get recommendations is to give them, so take some time to write recommendations for your contacts and they will most likely reciprocate.

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A Guide to Informational Interviews

The informational interview is the job seeker’s equivalent of market research. Informational interviews are NOT job interviews! Job interviews are formal meetings for the purpose of evaluating and screening job applicants.

 

Informational Interviews can be planned or unplanned and can occur at conferences, meetings of professional associations, social events, in one-on-one meetings at your contact's workplace or while stranded at an airport. Generally, the purpose of networking used in the context of the job search is to ask for information, not a job.

 

Before the Meeting
 
Set Up the Meeting
You can phone your contact directly, send an email asking for a meeting, or write an approach letter
Information meetings are far more effective when conducted in person rather than over the phone or by email

Phone meetings are necessary in long distance job searches, or when asking for a referral to someone more appropriate

 

What if I am uncomfortable cold calling?
If initially you feel uncomfortable with the process, it is probably better to send an email or letter, then call to ask whether you can set up a meeting
Do not expect your contact to call or write back. You retain the initiative and should call again

If you reach voicemail or a receptionist, leave a clear message with your name, number, and the name of the person who referred you, saying you will call back the next day. You can ask a receptionist the best time to call again

 
Phone Dialogue to Ask for a Meeting
  • Always check whether the person has time to speak to you. Offer to call them back . . . don't expect them to call you.
  • Write your own script ahead of time to help you feel more comfortable and in control of the situation
  • Practice your script until it sounds natural and upbeat. Rehearse it with someone who can give you feedback
  • Introduce yourself and explain how you got their name
  • Ask if they are free to talk for a few minutes. If they're not, ask for the best time to call back and be sure you actually call then
  • Tell them you are RESEARCHING the ________ field, and asking for ADVICE, not a job
  • Ask for a 20-30 minute meeting at their convenience, preferably at their worksite. Assure them you know they are busy and you will be brief. OPTIONAL: You can offer to buy them a cup of coffee or take them to lunch, but this can be expensive; meeting them in their office is often more convenient for them and helpful for your research
  • Be sure to get clear directions to their workplace

 

Sending Email or Writing a Letter to Ask for a Meeting

The process is the same through email or a letter, but it’s helpful to follow up with a phone call. It is usually best not to enclose a resume with an approach letter or email message, as it looks like you are applying for a job. Describe your experience in your note in a brief, natural way. If you do enclose your resume, mention in your note: "I have enclosed my resume so you will have some information on my background."

 

Practice Your Own "Thumbnail Sketch" Beforehand

"I'd like to tell you a little more about my background, so you can give me advice on how I might plan my next steps . . . I have taken some time to think about my experience and education to this point, and feel my particular skills involve analysis (using my econ background and interest in solving complex strategic problems), communication and teamwork skills, and thinking on my feet. I am considering going to graduate school in _____, _____, or possibly ______ in a few years, but until then I want to get involved in this field (or possibly the name of an allied field) and clarify my career plans."

 

During the Meeting

Begin the Meeting

People tend to be very busy, so be sure you keep the meeting to the time you requested. Meetings in person, which are the most effective, should probably take no more than 30 minutes. Phone meetings should only last 10-15 minutes.

 

Introduce Yourself and State Your Purpose

"Hello. It's a pleasure to meet you, and I really appreciate you taking the time to see me (or speak to me). As I said in my email, I am exploring various career fields and opportunities. I will be graduating in ____, and am especially interested in learning more about the __________ field. I am not looking for a job at this point, but am researching the field." Or "I am researching possibilities for summer internships to gain experience in the _______ field, and would appreciate your perspective as someone involved in the field."

 

Talk about your background in brief, conversational terms.

 

Ask Questions

People enjoy talking about themselves so ask as many questions as possible. For example, you can ask for Referrals;

 

"You've been very generous with your time, and you've given me several new ideas to explore. I have a final request. The jobs you thought might be appropriate for someone with my skills and background sound interesting, and I'd like to find out more about these possibilities. Do you know anyone in these kinds of jobs who would be willing, like yourself, to provide me with additional advice and information?" Or, "Do you know anyone in (market research) at (Ajax Company) who could give me advice or would be willing to share their knowledge and give me ideas for additional contacts?"

 

Say Thank You

"Thanks again for taking the time to talk with me. I've enjoyed our meeting it’s useful to hear about your experience. I will let you know how I'm doing." Or "This meeting has been so helpful; may I contact you in a few months when I have progressed further in my search?" Then ask for their business card.

 

Should I Hand Out my Resume?

If you have a significant amount of experience in this or related fields, you may want to ask if they would be willing to look over your resume and comment on its clarity or appropriateness for this field. However, if you have limited work experience you might instead ask, "How would you recommend I list my community service, or class project on my resume?"

You might ask if they would like a copy of your resume. However, you need to use your judgment at this point. It may seem like you are suddenly asking for a job, and you want to leave on a positive note. The relationship is more important than getting a resume into their hands.
 
After the Meeting
Thank You Letter

Don’t forget to write or email a thank you note within a few days. Handwritten letters are rare and therefore get noticed. Be sure to include your address, phone, and email, so that your contact can get back in touch with you should they wish to do so.

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Job Search Networking

When you're job searching, who you know is as important as your qualifications. Your connections can provide you with inside information on the hiring process and what it's like to work at a company, give you a recommendation, possibly get your resume a close look, and help you secure an interview.

 

It's not only who you know personally who can help. It's also who the people you know can refer you to. Those people may be able to assist you, as well. How do you find connections at companies? It's actually simple and easy to search online to find contacts at your companies of interest. Asking for help, the old fashioned way, still works, too.

 

How to Find Connections at Companies

LinkedIn
Start by searching your LinkedIn Connections to see who you know at a company. Search by keyword or click on Companies to see a list of companies where you have contacts.
Next, click on the Companies section of LinkedIn. Then you'll be able to search by company name. Scroll down to see who you are connected with at the company.

 

Also, search the Groups Directory by keyword. Many companies have Groups you can join. Once you're a member you will be able to interact with the other group members.

 

SimplyHired: LinkedIn and Facebook
Job search engine SimplyHired's Who Do I Know Feature allows job seekers to connect directly from a SimplyHired.com job listing to their LinkedIn network to find out if they have contacts at a company. Clicking on the Who Do I Know button at the top of the search results will give you an in-line view of your connections without having to leave Simply Hired.

 

SimplyHired also has a way for job seekers to see Facebook Friends at companies. To get started, simply click on Log On to Facebook when you visit SimplyHired.com. You'll see your Facebook friends at the top of the page when you search for jobs, plus, you'll see your LinkedIn connections on the right side of the page next to individual job postings.

 

College Career Networking

Check with your college Career Services and Alumni Affairs to see if there is an online Career Network you can access to search for alumni at a company. Your university may also have LinkedIn and Facebook Groups you can use to connect.

 

In Person Networking
Networking in person is really important, too. You can't beat that one-on-one interaction, especially when you're seeking help. If you belong to a professional association, attend a meeting or a mixer. You'll find that many of the participants have the same goals you do, and may have contacts at the companies you're interested in.

 

If your college or university holds alumni networking events be sure to attend. Join the local chapter of your alumni association.

 

Networking the Old Fashioned Way
Just because so much networking is handled online or at professional functions, it doesn't mean that old fashioned networking is out of style. It's simple and it works. All it entails is asking everyone you know - via email, phone, or in a personal conversation - if they know anyone at the companies you'd like to work for. Even if they don't know someone personally, they may be able to refer you to someone who does.

 

It makes sense to use a combination of methods to find connections. Don't limit yourself to one way or another, instead, when you have a job opportunity you're interested in, check right away to see who you know at the company. You never know who might be able to give your candidacy a boost.

 

Even if you're not looking for a job right now, career networking should be a part of your daily, or at least weekly, routine. You never know when you might find yourself in need of a new job. I know more people, myself included at one point in my career, who have unexpectedly lost their job without notice. If you have a network in place and contacts you keep in touch with, it will be much easier to get started on a job search than if you're starting from scratch.

 

Social Networking Sites
Top Social Networking Sites for Job Searching

Networking is one of the most important components of job searching. Use these top social and professional networking sites to enhance your career and boost your job search, and learn how to use social networking sites to job search.

 

LinkedIn

You can search the Jobs section of linked in by keyword and location or used the Advanced Search option to search by more specific criteria.

 

How to Use LinkedIn to Find a Job - Or Have a Job Find You

  • Create a Profile. Create a detailed profile on LinkedIn, including employment (current and past), education, industry, and web sites.
  • Consider a Photo. You can add a photo (a headshot is recommended or upload a larger photo and edit it) to your LinkedIn profile. Note that it must be a small photo - no larger than 80x80 pixels.
  • Keywords and Skills. Include all your resume keywords and skills in your profile, so your profile will be found.
  • Build Your Network. Connect with other members and build your network. The more connections you have, the more opportunities you have.
  • Get Recommendations. Recommendations from people you have worked with carry a lot of weight.
  • Search Jobs. Use the job search section to find job listings.
  • Use Answers. The Answers section of LinkedIn is a good way to increase your visibility. Respond to questions, and ask a question if you need information or assistance.
  • Stay Connected. Use LinkedIn Mobile (m.linkedin.com) to view profiles, invite new connections, and access to LinkedIn Answers from your phone.

 

Facebook

As a college student, Facebook is probably your #1 way of keeping in touch with your friends. By simply updating your status online, you can inform all of your friends on what your doing and what you've been up to. This can be very important for college students who are short on time and may feel that they are losing touch with some of their old friends who they haven't seen in awhile. Social Networking is a great way for college students to maintain their connections as friends from all over the world can update them on what they're doing merely by writing on their wall. This sharing on Facebook has pretty much replaced email for students wishing to communicate with current and old friends online.

 

KODA

KODA.us is a job site with a different twist on social recruiting. It's like a hybrid of social Facebook and professional LinkedIn. Like Facebook, user profiles have photos. After you sign up, you can add video and descriptive information about yourself, along with basic resume information. When you create a profile on KODA, you'll be able to highlight your skills, personality and experiences. In addition, you can share videos, images, and links to websites that showcase your background. Your profile, employer profiles, and job opportunities can be shared on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Twitter
Twitter is a social networking and microblogging service utilizing instant messaging, SMS or a web interface. Twitter is open ended and people and companies use it in a variety of ways, including to job search.

 

Users post updates on Twitter that are displayed on the user's profile page and delivered to other users who have signed up to receive them. Employers and job sites post job openings on Twitter, and job seekers use Twitter to help facilitate their job search.

 

MySpace
MySpace is a social networking website offering users the opportunity to connect through personal profiles, blogs, groups and other features.
MySpace is one of the most popular social networking site, and if you have a MySpace page and you're job searching, you may have heard that you need to be careful about the information you post.

 

Hiring Managers check the web for anything they can find about prospective candidates, and MySpace and Facebook are among the sites they check.

 

Ning
Ning is an online service to create, customize, and share a social network. Users have used Ning to create online social networks about lots of subjects, including jobs and the job search. Each Ning network has slightly different features but they all generally allow users to blog, connect with other Ning members, and discuss relevant issues in network forums.

 

Much of the content is accessible to anybody, but users have to register with Ning to participate in any of these communities.

 

Doostang

Doostang is an invite-only community, founded by a Stanford MBA and an MIT engineer, that connects young professionals to career opportunities through social networking.

 

StumbleUpon

StumbleUpon offers referrals to websites based on other sites you've visited and ranked. When you sign up, it adds buttons to your browser toolbar. Hitting "Stumble!" will pull up sites in topics you're interested in. Other buttons allow you to give pages a thumbs-up or down. If you're the first to rank a site, it will prompt you to write a brief review. So head over, create an account, and review your site. Then hit "Stumble!" to discover sites others have recommended.

 
 
 
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