Networking: The Art and Science of Building Relationships

    Most jobs are never posted on a job board; in fact, networking might be the key to finding the job of your dreams. Networking can seem difficult and even mysterious for many job seekers, but with practice, everyone can develop powerful networks that produce results. The key point to remember when networking is that you are really developing relationships. The best way to get someone to assist you is to find out how you can be of assistance to them. In other words, you help others and they in turn will help you. Start developing your network today by following these five steps.

    The 5 Steps of Networking:

    1) Define Your Network     
    • Your network is closer than you think. Start with friends, family, neighbors, your fellow students, mentors, and WGU Career Services. Networking starts when you let everyone in your immediate circle know what you are looking for so that they can help you by referring leads.
    • Join professional associations and volunteer in the community.
    • Don’t neglect online professional networks. LinkedIn is the most widely used online professional network. Over 50 million professionals use LinkedIn to exchange information, ideas, and opportunities. You can link to professional associations, participate in discussions with industry professionals, and even view job postings. Join the WGU LinkedIn group to connect other WGU students, alumni, and employers.

    2) Define Your Goal 

    • Identify the industry and company that you want to work in. The clearer your goal, the easier it is for people to help you. As you develop your goal, be sure to research both the industry and the company thoroughly.
    3) Develop Your Brand
    • Branding is becoming increasingly important in the job search process. Once you have identified your job goal, you will want to develop an introduction or “info-mercial” that you will use when interacting with your network. The info-mercial worksheet will help you develop your unique and powerful 30–60 second introduction. You can use this introduction just about everywhere – from family reunions to professional networking events. It is also the foundation to that popular interview question: “Tell me about yourself.”

    4) Reach Out

    • Begin with an introductory phone call or e-mail. You will want to be sure to reference the person who referred you and be specific and concise in your request by explaining why you would like to speak to them.
    • Don't start by asking whether they are hiring. It is best to request an informational interview.

    5) Follow Up

    • Always be sure to send a thank you note to everyone you network with. Remember that one of the keys to a successful job search is to be actively engaged and that means following up with your network to thank them and keep them informed of your progress.
    • Keep track of your contacts using an Excel spreadsheet. Include the contact name, their company, the action you have taken (e-mailed, information interview, thank you note) and the results of your networking. Also remember to notify your contacts when you apply for a position with their company and/or in their industry.

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