Networking is, simply put, the building of mutually beneficial professional relationships. From a career development perspective, networking has numerous benefits - from exploring various careers to connecting to employers with potential job or internship opportunities. In today's challenging economic environment, networking is not optional; it is essential to your success.
Networking is not asking someone for a job. Remember, the key to networking is building a relationship that is mutually beneficial and can be relied on throughout your entire career. Therefore, utilize networking as an opportunity to listen to what a professional has to say. Consider what you can offer a prospective employer versus what the employer has to offer you. Making an initial contact is not enough; you need to stay connected to your network and keep them updated when you complete internships, take a new job, or read an article that could benefit a particular contact.
An informational interview is an interview used to obtain information from a professional about a given occupation or field of interest to you. Informational interviews are an excellent resource for helping you better understand the ins and outs of careers of interest to you through someone who is working the field. Possible topics that can be covered in an informational interview include:
- Typical Day
- Scope of Responsibility
- Career Path
- Skills/Experience Required
- Work/Life Balance
At the conclusion of your informational interview, be sure to thank the professional for his or her time. If you have found the information helpful and would like to build further connections in the field, it is wise to ask your contact if he/she could suggest two or three additional people to talk to in an effort to continue to enhance your understanding of the field. It is highly suggested that you send a thank you note to the professional after the informational interview.
LinkedIn is a professional networking website with over 70 million users in 200 countries worldwide. LinkedIn is an excellent resource for connecting with individuals in a field of interest to you. Essentially, the site serves as a "roadmap" to not only help you understand your direct professional connections, but also to shed insight into your indirect or "2nd degree" connections. A 2nd degree connection is someone who knows someone that you know. Using this approach, LinkedIn has the ability to connect you with individuals you may not have had the opportunity to meet.
LinkedIn is also an excellent way to connect with Kogod alumni through the Kogod School of Business group. The group provides an avenue to connect via a discussion board or by directly sending a message to alumni of interest to you.