4 Weeks to Building a Network: Step 4

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Today, we conclude our series on networking that Cassie Thompson, a practicum student in Career and Professional Development, is sharing with us.  Please find step 1 here, step 2 here, and step 3 here.  Thanks again for sharing your insights with us, Cassie.

Time to follow-up and then move forward. Within 24 hours of meeting with a contact, write a thank you email. This doesn’t have to be long. Simply say thanks for taking the time to meet, add something personal about the experience to show you were listening, and if they gave great advice on something you should do next, tell them how you are going to move forward on that advice! Showing gratitude can get you far in this world as so few people do it.

Hopefully from your meetings you have come up with new names to contact and grow your network, and one day, one of those names will be the key to the right job! Additionally, maybe you were given other pieces of advice to focus on. Perhaps someone told you your resume needed some help, or that you needed more customer service training in order to work in that field. Make a list of all the advice given to you and start working on all of it. Add those new names to your spreadsheet and start sending more emails!

Congratulations! You now have a bona fide network!

4 Weeks to Building a Network: Step 3

Image courtesy of Detanan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Detanan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Today, we continue with step 3 in a series on networking that Cassie Thompson, a practicum student in Career and Professional Development, is sharing with us.  Please find step 1 here and step 2 here.  Thanks so much for sharing your insights with us, Cassie.

Okay, by now you have lunches and coffee dates set. So what in the world will you talk about?

When you meet with each person, tell them again what types of job you are interested in and ask them for advice. A number of things could happen. They may have names of others working in the industry to refer you to. They may know of an open position that is not yet on their company’s website. Or they may tell you about their day-to-day work and you realize that isn’t a job you would be interested in!

Also, it is pretty likely that they will ask you questions about what you want to do. Tell the truth! If you aren’t sure, say you are still exploring, but this industry is very appealing to you. If you know, share why you want to work in that field or for that company. By being open about what you want, it will help guide their advice to be more specific to your needs and challenges.

As you meet with each of these ten people, you will gain new information to help solidify what paths you want to keep walking down and which ones to stop and turn around! Hopefully you will begin some great relationships to help you for your future.

4 Weeks to Building a Network: Step 2

networking step 2
Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Today, we continue with step 2 in a series on networking that Cassie Thompson, a practicum student in Career and Professional Development, is sharing with us.  Please find step 1 here.  Thanks so much for sharing your insights with us, Cassie.

Okay, you’ve made your list and selected your ten people. Now what to do with that list?

One by one, ask them if you can take them to coffee or lunch. Let them know you are doing some information gathering as you look for a future career, and that you are interested in their industry or type of position and would like to ask them some questions, and would they be willing to meet. Depending on where you are in school, you can take your time with this, or maybe go a little more rapidly. If it is spring semester of your senior year, I would try and book coffees and lunches all spring break!

I need to mention that you will be paying for these coffees and lunches. At least, you will offer to pay. Some people will end up paying for you or splitting, but you must always offer. Yes, I know you are in college and cash may be tight, but consider this an investment in your future. As these people are willing to give up their time to talk with you, it is only right to show your gratitude by offering to pay!

Now here is where most people go, “But my roommate’s dad has met me once and he won’t remember me!” or “Why would my sister’s best friend want to help me?” There are a couple of reasons why they will want to help you. First, people love to talk about themselves. Seriously, don’t you love to talk about yourself? People like helping others and giving advice, so they will most likely want to help you out.

Second, many companies now have referral programs for new hires. This means that if you meet with your roommate’s dad and he knows there is an entry-level position open at his company that you’d be perfect for, he can refer you and get a bonus. It is in his best interest to meet with you. Lastly, the worst that can happen is the person says no. This is one door that has closed, but that’s why you have nine more! But until you ask, you will never know what path will be the one that leads to employment.

So time to start making some phone calls and writing some emails. Check back next week to see what to talk about over coffee!

How to Career Explore and Network at the Same Time: Step 1

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Today, Cassie Thompson, a practicum student in Career and Professional Development, is sharing step 1 of a 4-part series on networking.  Thanks so much for sharing your insights with us, Cassie.networking step 1

There is plenty of research that shows that most people get a job through some sort of connection in their network. Maybe that idea depresses you, because you think you don’t know anyone in the industry you are looking at. Or maybe you feel you don’t have a network. Or maybe you’ve heard that everyone in your contacts is your network, and that can feel overwhelming. Or maybe you just have no clue what you want to do! So where to begin?

Over the next few weeks, I will give a step in the process to both exploring a career and building a network. Some of these steps will feel really easy to do, and some a little more challenging-Hence why they are paced out. So step one…

Start with 10 people. Only ten. Choose ten people who either have a career you are interested in or work in an industry that interests you. These people can be your aunt, a professor, maybe a roommate’s dad or cousin, or your sister’s best friend. Basically, anyone you know that is working in something even remotely close to where you want to work is a good place to start. Create a list or spreadsheet with everyone’s names, jobs, and contact info.

Do not worry at this point about how well you know these people or fear whether they will help you. We’ll get to that part later. For now, just come up with ten names.

If you think of more than ten-great! Write them all on the list or spreadsheet, but for the purposes of not being overwhelmed, pick 10 people from that list to begin with. Maybe they’re the ones you know best or maybe they are the ones who have jobs closest to what you hope to do in the future, it doesn’t really matter, as long as you pick ten.

That is all for this week. Next week we will discuss what to do with the list!