Introduction to Networking

For some, the idea of networking is exciting. For others, the mere mention of the word can be anxiety provoking. In either case, it is important to know:

  • Why networking is important to your lifelong career success
  • What networking actually is, and what it is not
  • Where you can effectively network
  • Skills and strategies for networking


What Is Networking - and What Is It Not?

The basic idea: healthy networks are a community of people who are constantly thinking about ways to support one another’s growth and success.

“Networking” is not telling everyone you know you’re looking for a job. Asking people for names of those employed in places where you want to work isn’t networking, nor is approaching strangers to ask for jobs.

The most successful people view networking as an opportunity to connect with others to share useful information and resources. That’s right: networking isn’t about asking for assistance or collecting names. In the most perfect form, it’s about building relationships and helping others. When you network, you should identify contacts to build mutually beneficial relationships and follow up with them to nurture the potential for continued engagement and interaction.

If you don’t like to ask for help and therefore avoid networking, this is great news. Networking isn’t about asking for help, it’s about people helping each other. Identify what value you add to a potential or existing relationship. Employers and others gravitate to people who offer ideas. Know the answer to questions such as, “Why are you an asset?” and “What do you offer?” Be generous with your resources, knowledge, and skills, and you’ll be prepared to create two-way networking relationships that can make a big difference in your career.


Why Network?

You’re busy and have a lot of things vying for your time and attention. Why should “networking” be near the top of your list? Recent research by CareerXRoads has shown that, “A job seeker who is referred is conservatively three to four times more likely to be hired (some studies found that a job seeker who is referred is 14 times more likely to be hired) than someone who applies for a position without a referral.”

Those are compelling statistics. When you consider how much better your chances of landing an opportunity become when a current employee forwards your resume compared to applying on your own, it is clear why it’s important to spend time making connections with people who have the potential to send along your resume for consideration.

But, networking isn’t all about finding people who can get you a job — it’s about building lasting, supportive, relationships. Many good things can come out of those relationships--ideas, introductions, helpful suggestions, project proposals, and certainly a referral or recommendation for a job or internship.


Where Do I Network?

The short answer — everywhere! Networking happens every time you talk with a fellow student, alumna, peer at work, supervisor, or the endless chance encounters you have with people at school, work, and life in-general. The key to effective networking is curiosity, expressed through effective communication and great questions.

There is also one very important issue to consider. Some of you may not have existing networks that come from family or peer connections. And for those who do have existing connections, you may be wondering how to expand your network. There are many ways to do so! Please connect with our Career Communities to explore venues where you can begin or expand your network.

Skills and Strategies for Networking

Here are some further resources to help in your effectively building your network to support your career success.

  • Artful Communication - The Foundation for Effective Networking
    • These are the “soft skills” and nuances of communication that lead to successful networking and relationship building
  • Crafting your Pitch - Your 30 Second Introduction
    • This is the brief, polished introduction you can adapt to use in most any situation where you are building relationships and networks
  • Using Social Media to Network - Your Digital Professional Community
    • Today, it is critical to understand how to use social media in building your professional network.