Networking is a key component in today's job search process. Your career network should be in place for when you need it, both for job searching and for moving up in your career. Since you never know when you might need it, it makes sense to have an active career network in place now. Your career network should include anyone who can assist you with a job search or career move. It can include past and present professors, co-workers, bosses, friends with similar interests, colleagues from professional associations, KU alums, or acquaintances you have met via online networking services. To help you stay connected to KU and further networking opportunities, consider joining the Student Alumni Association. Your network can also include family, neighbors, and anyone who might have a connection that will help. Networking, however, is not just for the benefit of you. Be ready and prepared to help those in your network also.
Get face-to-face contact.
Before you "dive in" to online career networking, there are some important steps to complete first:
- Clean Up Your Online Image: Make sure all inappropriate or potentially offensive content has been removed from your online presence. You want to give a positive, professional impression to those you are networking with online.
- Develop Your Brand: A key to networking success is personal branding. You want to develop a clear idea of who you are as a professional and what you have to offer before reaching out to others online.
- Promote Your Brand: Find outlets online to help you promote your brand and connect with potential employers. Be an active member on industry-related networking sites where professionals in your field "hang out" online, as well as other networking sites like LinkedIn. Check out these helpful LinkedIn guides to learn more about setting up a profile (pdf), networking effectively (pdf), Tailoring Your LinkedIn Profile to Your Goals (pdf), Communicating Effectively (pdf), and job/internship searching (pdf).
- Know Your Talking Points: Be prepared to talk about yourself with others. Know what you want to say about yourself and how you want to say it.
- Think of Questions: Brainstorm some thoughtful questions for those with whom you want to network.
- Be Resume Ready: Polish your resume and be prepared to give it out to others who request it (to read themselves or to pass on to others in your field).
Thanks to the internet, it is easier than ever to build your professional network and reach out to key contacts for referrals, advice, and information. To find contacts online, reach out to:
- Who You Know: Start with people you know, especially those in your field. Don't neglect others not in your field, though; they may have contacts that they could refer you to!
- Your Extended Network: These are contacts people already in your network know, but you may not. Browse the contact lists of those you are connected to online to see if they know anyone that might be helpful to you. Don't be afraid to ask your contacts for referrals!
- Relevant Online Groups: Be an active member in online networking groups that are relevant to your industry. Reach out to fellow group members by posting thoughtful questions and insights and asking for advice, referrals, and information.
- Company Social Networking Sites: More than ever, companies and their recruiters are using social networking sites to promote their organization and career opportunities. Connect with employers online by browsing LinkedIn members for companies and contacts, being a company Facebook "fan", "following" company Twitter accounts, etc.
- Professionals via GEN Z Connect: Register for free using your KU email address, and connect with professionals across the globe to conduct informational interviews.
As you network with others online, build lasting beneficial relationships by:
- Communicating Like a Pro: Using professional communication (pdf) skills is just as essential when interacting with others online as it is when speaking face-to-face.
- Asking for Advice & Information (not just "Are you hiring?"): Whether they are hiring or not, your contacts can always share valuable information and advice about their organization or industry. Don't just ask for a job; get to know them and ask for their insights!
- Keeping the Door Open: Make sure you keep the lines of communication open by showing gratitude and asking for continued contact. Send a formal thank you letter or email and ask if you can contact them again in the future as additional questions arise.