The Importance of Networking
When you’re out in the “real world” looking for work, you can’t rely on your stellar resume and great grades to land you that perfect job. In today’s world, many young adults find their dream career through networking. This mysterious art often confuses the uninitiated, but there are a few easy ways to get started.
But first, you need to know what networking is. Networking is the art of using your contacts to generate other contacts—sort of like “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.” In that game, the challenge is to connect any actor to Kevin Bacon in six steps or less. Networking is a lot like that. You need to find a way to connect yourself to your dream job through family, friends, and acquaintances.
Let’s say you want to start a career in investment banking. You should start by finding out which of your relatives has a career in that field. If you have a cousin or an aunt who is a banker or works for a banking firm, give her a call. Chances are she can get you an interview with the human resources director. As a next step, think about your parents’ friends. Do any of them work in the field you want to work in? Do they know people who do? Do your professors, former teachers, or other acquaintances? If so, give them a call or tell your parents to let them know you’re looking for work.
And that’s a big step—make sure people know you’re looking for work. If they don’t know that you’re on the market, your relatives and friends won’t know to pass along tips and leads. Your school’s alumni office can also provide you with a list of alumni who work in your area or your field and who can help you make contacts and find work.
Another great way to network is to go to open houses and job fairs. Talk to the people there and make a good impression. Always dress professionally and present yourself as a model employee. You may also want to consider doing some volunteer work or interning in your field to build up a network of contacts you can call to help you find that job.
On the web you can find sites like Ryze (http://www.ryze.com/) that form virtual communities to bring networking to those who aren’t already connected. Less reliable are contacts from friends you might meet on Friendster or other online communities. Other web forums related to your preferred career can help, too, but don’t count on the internet to land you a job. There’s nothing like face-to-face contact to make an impression.
Networking is more than just talk and politics, though. As this site explains (http://polaris.gseis.ucla.edu/pagre/network.html), networking is an important way to make yourself known and become part of the world of work.
Remember, you should never be afraid to let people know that you’re looking for work. Someone somewhere knows of that elusive job opening, and you need to talk to the right people to find out how. Like the way the “Six Degrees” game can link Paris Hilton to Kevin Bacon in just a few steps, soon your network can have you hooked up with the job of your dreams. You just have to start talking!