Keep a track. It’s important to keep track of everyone you contact. Save all the business cards you receive during your networking activities and make cards for prospective contacts. Mark down the date of each interaction with each person—meetings, phone calls, and résumé mailings. Record who refers you to whom and how you followed up. Buy Palm Pilot. An inexpensive notebook, address book, or box of index cards ,Regularly flip through these contact cards or notebook pages to make sure no contact falls through the cracks.
Start Close to Home. The question is: Who do you know? And the answer: More people than you think. And those people know countless others. So get the word out—seize every opportunity to publicize your job search. Shout it from the rooftops! Begin asking for assistance with the right attitude. You are in business to get a job.. Don’t leave out your classmates, former classmates, school alumni, teachers, professors, coaches, and anyone who was ever on your team or in your class. Co-workers, former co-workers, bosses, friends’ bosses count, too. Be specific: let them know the type of position you’re looking for.
Be a good listener. Even if you’re not great at small talk, it’s easy to be a good listener. Everyone loves to talk about himself or herself, and other people’s experiences are a great way to learn about a career or a company, as well as potential job openings. Just ask a few key questions: “What do you do?” “Where are you working?” “How’d you get started?” Then sit back and soak up the information. A random encounter at a coffee shop or on a subway may spark a new job or industry idea in your head.
Find a reason to call. Find articles or news programs that you might recommend to your key contacts. “I saw this article and thought of you…” shows you are up on your current events and that your professional life is top-of-mind. This tactic is sure to impress! If you can’t come up with something quite as clever, invite your contact for afternoon tea or an evening cocktail at the newest spot in town. It’s less expensive than a whole meal, and that drink could lead to great connections. Instead of asking for a job, start by offering your contact the opportunity to share their career advice and individual stories.
Use your alumni association. College alumni are an often-untapped resource, which is a shame since they can be some of your best connections for career networking. Aside from maintaining a vast network of contacts, many of whom are ready to help fellow graduates, career service offices also offer a range of services. These include résumé critiques, career assessment instruments, seminars, career days, employer information sessions, alumni networking clubs, and access to online job listings. Most schools around the country provide reciprocity for their alumni at other schools. If you attended a small college and you’ve found that none of the alumni connections are relevant, ask your alma mater to write a letter on your behalf seeking services at other career centers around the country. Such arrangements allow you to tap into that network and make use of their resources. Similarly, when approaching alumni for assistance with your search, be prepared to share the latest campus news and excitement. This often provokes a sense of nostalgia and triggers memories from their time on campus. That connection can strengthen their desire to assist your efforts. It is also an opportunity for them to learn what kind of career opportunities new graduates are currently pursuing.
Do Your Homework. Before getting in touch with your new contact or alumnus, research his or her company. Familiarize yourself with the organization’s structure, products and services, and competitors, as well as how this person’s job fits into the organization. Go beyond reading the website. Read trade journals and other industry magazines.
Prepare for an Informational Interview. You’ve convinced someone to give you their valuable time. Don’t squander it. Be prepared, professional, polite, and to the point. Create a list of questions to ask based on your individual goals and the knowledge you have gained through your research.
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