what is networking? why is it important?

 
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Networking may appear scary at first, but it is an essential step in obtaining and furthering a career. The research that we have compiled is intended to provide tips, resources, practice, and information to enable you to become a networking pro in no time.

You’ll find the listed topics in the How to Network Guide (if you’re on your mobile device, you may need to scroll up or down to see the list). Click any of the links to jump directly to that topic, or scroll to explore the whole guide. For some extra advice, check out Mary Angela Baker’s tip from the pros!


 

how to dress: making a great impression

Dress the part. First impressions are key! Make sure to be well-groomed, dress professionally and appropriately. Keep reading this section for more information on the do’s and don’ts of appropriate networking attire. You may feel like you’ve already read tips about how to dress. We repeat it here because you only get one chance to make a GREAT first impression.

 
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here’s what you should do

·     DO wear a neat blouse with long or quarter length sleeves 

·     DO wear a tailored blazer or a nice sweater if you have no sleeves

·     DO wear pressed slacks or a knee length skirt or dress

·     DO wear clean flats or conservative heels

·     DO wear conservative jewelry and accessories

·     DO keep your hair out of your face to avoid playing with it during conversation

what to do continued…

·     DO wear a pressed button-up shirt or polo.

·     DO wear a tailored formal jacket or a nice sweater.

·     DO learn how to tie a tie click HERE for help! 

·     DO tuck your shirt in.

·     DO wear pressed slacks or khakis.

·     DO wear dark or beige/tan dress socks (no ankle socks).

·     DO wear nice dress shoes/loafers/wingtips. Bonus points if you can coordinate your shoes and belt!

·     DO brush or style your hair.

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heres what not to do…

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  • DON’T show off your arms/shoulders or excessive cleavage.

  • DON’T wear a skirt or dress too far above your knees.

  • DON’T overdo your makeup. Keep it light and natural. 

  • DON’T wear jeans or sweatpants to a networking event.

  • DON’T wear your hair in a messy bun. 

  • DON’T got too crazy with bright colors or patterns. Keep it balanced and professional. 

  • DON’T wear shorts 

  • DON’T wear sneakers or flipflops

  • DON’T wear slacks or a jacket that are ill fitting.

  • Click HERE for some guidelines on how a suit should fit.

  • DON’T wear mismatched colors. If your pants are black do not wear brown shoes. 

Networking events: Before, During, After

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Networking is much more than showing up, handing out a few business cards and snagging some free snacks. The best way to make the most of a networking event is to come in prepared.

Before the event

1.Do your homework!

to succeed at a networking event, you’ve got to do some research beforehand. Ask the event sponsors for a list of prospective participating companies and organizations. Look into companies in your field that you may be interested in working with. Having a little background information on the company and what they do makes all the difference, and will set you apart from other students at the event.

2. Be prepared to ask AND answer questions.

Prepare a list of questions to ask employers and companies that will show your genuine interest in the company. You should also be prepared to answer questions about yourself, including your interests, aspirations, career goals, hobbies and more.

3. Practice your elevator pitch.

Prepare a 30-second elevator pitch that summarizes who you are, what your career interests are and why you would be a good fit for any company.

4. Bring business cards.

Having a business card is a great way to stand out to employers as a college student. You should also bring a pen and a small notebook, or something to write on.

5. Dress the part.

First impressions are key! Make sure to be well-groomed, dress professionally and appropriately. Keep reading this workbook for more information on dressing for success!

during the event

You’re here to expand your network and make connections. Here are tips on how to make the most of it:

Make a good impression.

PRO-TIP: Dressing the part is only the first step in making a good first impression. Don’t forget what employers are looking for: competence, confidence and a positive attitude. Show genuine interest in the conversations you have, ask questions, make eye contact and smile.

Exchange business cards.

PRO-TIP: keep your business cards in one pocket of your pants or blazer, and keep the business cards of employers and people you meet in the opposite pocket. That way, they won’t get mixed up and you won’t have to fuss with finding your business card when you need it.

PRO-TIP: After meeting someone and exchanging business cards, write something about them and about the conversation you had on the back of their business card. This does two things: 1) This will help you remember them and 2) in a follow-up email after the event, you can mention the conversation you had with them, so they remember you, too.

After the event

Even if you do everything right at a networking event, the employers you met may have forgotten you by the time they get home at the end of the day. Following up with employers after a networking event is essential if you want to continue networking with them.

Reach out via email.

Before you go to bed that night, send a personalized follow-up email to any potential employers you met. Let them know that you enjoyed the conversation you had with them.

*Bonus: hand-written thank you notes go a long way. Read more about this in the Tools E-Book

Invite them to connect on LinkedIn

This way, they will have your profile available at their fingertips. To learn more about utilizing online tools to maintain and grow your network, keep reading! This workbook discusses the power of online tools and utilizing online resources.

Ask for an informational interview

If it’s a job you want, don’t be afraid to ask for an informational interview in that follow-up email. An informational interview can mean a phone call, meeting over coffee, or even coming into their office to meet. The next section discusses informational interviews in greater detail.

Now that you know how to best prepare for your next networking event, you can go in with confidence and crush it! Remember that a little preparation goes a long way, and can set you apart from the crowd.

Informational Interviews

What is an Informational Interview?

An informational interview is an informal meeting with an employed professional, where the job seeker seeks career advice, information on the industry or workplace culture. Informational interviews are excellent tools for meeting and seeking advice from experts in your industry, or individuals who can serve as great resources down the line.

How to set up an informational interview?

Informational interviews can be in-person, over the phone, or even through Skype or a video chat. In-person informational interviews can be held at the potential employers office, or even over coffee or lunch.

The best way to go about scheduling an informational interview is to contact the individual via email, and express a clear interest in meeting or chatting.

Whenever you have an informational interview, remember the most important thing you should ask at the end of your conversation:

“So now that we had time to chat, do you know anybody else I should meet?”

This question allows you to grow your network and continue to connect with new people in your industry! For more tips on key questions to ask in an informational interview, check out this article!

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We created a guide for you to use when organizing and tracking your informational interviews. Click the DOWNLOAD OUR GUIDE button to the right.

INformal networking

The DO’s and DON’Ts of Informal Networking

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Networking events, social profiles, and company hosted events are a great way to start your networking journey, but there are also several informal ways to network that could be beneficial.

Informal networking can include several different things including, grabbing coffee with existing contacts or new contacts, attending company parties, going to lunch with contacts, and meeting a group of coworkers after a long day at work. This type of networking allows for a more relaxed environment that could help reduce the normal networking stresses. Business casual dress is usually accepted and casual conversations can lead to a better understanding of your contacts outside of the normal professional environment. Below is a list of DO’s that apply to informal networking:

  • DO look for different meet up spots.

  • DO make conversation a two way street.

  • DO leave a way to follow up, either on social sites or exchange emails.

  • DO put yourself out there and just say hello

Meeting up with those who have similar interests, are in the same organization, frequent the same spots, and even those you connect with some other way are forms of informal networking. If you want more tips on things to do in informal networking situations, click this link that will take you to 10 simple tips for informal networking!

The Dont’s of Informal Networking and what to do instead

Even though informal networking can be more casual, that does not mean there shouldn't be any professionalism involved. Below are some tips on what NOT to do during informal networking:

  • DON’T be aggressive.

  • INSTEAD be friendly and memorable.

  • DON’T overdress.

  • INSTEAD dress for the occasion.

  • DON’T try to sell yourself.

  • INSTEAD make a friend.

While it is important to make a good impression, especially if it is a first time meeting, overselling yourself can have the reverse effect.  Coming on to aggressive can turn an informal meeting into a formal one. If you’re meeting for coffee or outside of the professional setting, aggression can be off putting to your contact. Informal networking is less structured than formal networking, so keep it casual, but do not cross over the line into inappropriate or uncomfortable subjects. Try to keep the conversation friendly, flowing, and appropriate to the different settings. Remember this is not work, this is a chance to meet or expand upon those contacts you have and find common interests that benefit both parties. To read more about these DON’Ts click here!

INFORMAL NETWORKING: PLACES TO START

EVENTBRITE: This website has several listings of different events near you that you can meet up with people outside of the formal setting. Click here to visit Eventbrite site!

BOOTCAMPS: Different companies, professions, and fields may offer online or retreats. These are hosted for professionals to learn skills, certifications, and network with contacts with similar interests!

VOLUNTEERING: These are great opportunities not only to put on your resume, but to meet other professionals. Click here for a list of possible volunteer opportunities!

 
With the many options available to you on the Internet, it can be challenging to decide where to begin. Thankfully, there are systems in place that are specifically used for creating professional networks, and they are more user friendly than ever.

With the many options available to you on the Internet, it can be challenging to decide where to begin. Thankfully, there are systems in place that are specifically used for creating professional networks, and they are more user friendly than ever.

Utilizing online tools for networking

Help from the web…

Developing your business network is essential in growing your own professional image and career. These connections will allow you to build and mold yourself for the job/career that you desire. It is important to understand that 21st Century technology has changed the way we all network.

In todays business world, we’re seeking out connections on social media and referrals to help build our networks - and ultimately professional life. In other words, networking is more than just throwing your name out there like in days past; it’s about creating meaningful relationships that allow you to promote yourself. Therefore you must be able to expand your horizons and get out of your comfort zone to create your own opportunities.   

For more information on this, check out: Link to CRM E-Book

While different networking events and being active on social media outlets are all a part of networking and building your career, it can become a bit overwhelming. That’s when it is important for you to rely on tools to help make networking more efficient and effective, for example contacting someone via their business card or even on LinkedIn. Do not be afraid to message sought out employers or new connections to expand and get feedback on information and questions you might have.

Understanding Social Media Outlets

In the past five years, connecting on social networking sites has rocketed from a niche activity into a phenomenon that engages tens of millions of internet users. Now, instead of connecting at an in-person event, you can reach hundreds, even thousands, of potential contacts online. Today, social media plays a very big role in online networking. It allows users to connect and share. Even though the usual networking methods such as attending conferences, and meeting friends of friends still apply, social media has made things a lot easier. It is very important to understand that every individual and organization has a social presence. This makes it a powerful resource for career and network development. While your previous use of social media may have been more… well, social,  in nature, that is only the beginning of what these platforms have to offer.

Here you can find a more detailed explanation of social media and how it influences and is applied in networking today. https://www.ldsjobs.org/ers/ct/network-through-social-media?lang=eng

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Utilizing your online tools.

Social media has now become a critical part in the way most professionals and businesses communicate and a key part of how work gets done. It has become the “go to” way to network online. But one must stay on top of the trends and keep up with the updates. To be able to remain relevant.

To get a better understanding of how to use the different social media outlets in your networking plan, check out: https://www.nytimes.com/guides/business/social-media-for-career-and-business

This will give you detailed information on how to use each social media program to your advantage.

→ For more information about these tools, check out: Link to TOOLS E-Book

Finally here are a few closing tips that can be helpful:

  • Make sure your social media profiles are “clean.” Many issues stem from not being able to separate your personal from professional profiles. Therefore post under the rules “would I want my grandmother to see this picture?”

  • Don’t let the fact that you don’t yet know the person hold you back from sending an invite to connect. Simply be transparent, and let them know why you’d like to connect with them online.

  • When sending a LinkedIn invitation , make sure that you always include a personal note or message to make sure you stand out.

Maintaining your network & following up

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How to Maintain Your Network

Everyone knows it’s important to build a network. But once you’ve made a connection with someone, how do you maintain it ,over the long haul, so that you can call the person when you need help (e.g., a job reference or a professional favor)? How frequently should you be in touch with your contacts? And how do you balance efforts to bring in new people while staying in touch with those you’ve known for a while?

To begin with, make a clear and sensible decision about who in your network you should prioritize and arrange them accordingly. Next you should consider the various tools in your physical and digital toolkit to stay in touch such as, email, phone calls, coffee dates, parties, and even hand written notes. How can you best use these to maintain your associations?


The best approach to keeping up a professional network, is to be in the loop of the overall network you're developing. To grow your network in the Data/Information Age, you can, quite easily remain connected and informed about people from your past. However, an over-reliance by means of digital communication, especially through social media, to keep up your professional network can be dangerous. This can lead to “forcing” relationships, or even losing the real-life social skills needed for business


Another way to remain on good terms with your contacts is to look for ways you can be helpful to them. Stay connected by something as simple as liking/supporting their promotions, events, or accomplishments. Congratulatory messages will keep them reminded of your support and will be more likely to in turn support you in your endeavors. Lastly, contacts in your network can become outdated. Every six months or so you should do an “audit” of your professional ties. You need to look at your list of contacts and ask, is it still accurate? Who should I add? Who is no longer quite as relevant? This will simply keep your list up to date with accurate information which is always helpful.

Do:

  • Decide who you want to stay in touch with and how often you want to reach out.

  • Make use of all the communication tools in your arsenal, including email, phone, coffee dates, social gatherings, and handwritten notes.

  • Look for ways you can help your contacts with the professional and personal challenges they face.

Don’t:

  • Go overboard on social media. Be strategic about how you use it.

  • Brag about your accomplishments.

  • Kill yourself trying to network with everyone you’ve ever met. Keep a running list of relevant contacts and audit from time to time.

 

Following up

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Some key follow-up tools you should know for your first job search process are writing thank you cards/emails and utilizing “after the fact” phone calls.

What you say and how you say it are even more important than the manner in which you send it. A standard thank-you note should accomplish several things:

  1. Thank the person for the opportunity to interview with the company.

  2. Plug your skills: "The job is a good fit for me because of XYZ and my past experience in XYZ.“

  3. I am a good fit for the job.

  4. Finally, recap some of the conversational highlights.

Interviewers have short memories. A thank-you letter is your final chance to make yourself stand apart from all of the others who want the same position.

EXAMPLE THANK YOU EMAIL/CARD:

Sample Email Follow-Up Message #2

Subject: Your Name - Thank You

Dear Name:

It was a pleasure to finally meet you after our many emails and phone conversations regarding the Production Editor / Proofreader position. I truly enjoyed hearing about the Management Group and learning more about the needs of the Sales Intelligence Department. I appreciated being able to share some of the reasons why I feel that I am the ideal candidate for the job.

I also appreciated touring your facilities. They are quite impressive, and it would be a true joy to work in such beautiful surroundings.

Thank you also for introducing me to several members of your Sales Intelligence team. They were all so kind and accommodating. Please let them know I appreciate how comfortable they made me feel. I agree it was unfortunate that Bob Brown, the actual person to whom I'd report, was not in the office. I hope he is feeling better, and I look forward to coming back to meet with him when it's convenient.

After talking with you, meeting the team, and getting a better understanding of what is involved in the position, I am even more confident that there can be no better match. Don Pearce showed me several recent projects and Jody Fryer explained the process and gave me a look at the computer applications that I might be using. I am very familiar with the entire setup and have done work almost identical to the examples that I was shown.

Currently, my schedule is flexible, and knowing your urgency to fill the position, I would like to meet Mr. Brown at his earliest convenience. Please drop me an email or a quick call with a date and time, and I'll be sure to arrange my schedule so that I can meet Mr. Brown. Thank you again for your time; I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Best regards,

First Name Last Name

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follow-up phone calls

Calling a potential employer after a networking event or opportunity is crucial in setting yourself apart from your peers as well as leaving a lasting impression. Some say it may even be the “make it or break it” factor in the job seeking process.  But don’t worry, were here to help!

Ex. Phone Call(Folow-Up)

"Hi this is Jessica Jones. You and I met last week, and if you remember, I am an recent graduate and I applied for the marketing manager position. The project teams I've worked on have achieved Huge Benefit AAwesome Result B, and Significant Achievement C. You might recall I've held positions with increasing levels of responsibility at HugeFirm Inc. and ImpressiveCo ... and like we talked about, I think that's the type of experience you're looking to bring to your team. I'm following up with you to show some initiative because I do think I'm qualified and I sincerely hope you'll end up extending me an offer. Can you please give me a ring back or shoot me an email to let me know where you are with the hiring process? I'm at 555.123.1212, that's 555.123.1212. Thanks Mike, please do keep me posted. Bye."

Follow up Calls: Dos and Don’ts

Be prepared. Have a copy of your resume in front of you when you call. That way, you'll be prepared to answer questions if the interviewer has any. This will also help you avoid feeling flustered on the phone call or rambling. Have a list of references ready in case you are asked for them.

Make a list. Create a short list of what you're going to say, including your key qualifications for the job.

Practice. If you're nervous about calling, and that's entirely understandable, practice. Ask a friend or family member to pretend they are the hiring manager and make a couple of calls. The more you say it, the easier the conversation will be when it's for real.

Call in private. You obviously don't want to call from a cubicle at work, but it's also important not to have a lot of background noise if you call from home or somewhere in public. You need to be able to hear, think, and speak clearly, and a quiet spot to call from will make all the difference in the world.

Smile. If you project confidence when you call, it will get through to the other end of the phone line. Confident and assured candidates have a better chance at getting a job offer than someone who is nervous and hesitant.

Call the decision-maker. Be sure to get the interviewer's business card at the end of the interview if you don't already have a phone number. It's important to talk to the person who has hiring authority or can at least recommend you as the top candidate for the job.

Make a match. Mention how you are a perfect fit for the position, highlighting -- specifically -- why you're a match. Briefly mention the qualifications you have and tie them to what the employer is seeking.

Offer information. Use your follow up call as a way to both thank your interviewer and to ask if you can provide them with any further information to help make a decision.

Take it a step further. If the conversation goes well, you can even ask when you might expect the company to make a decision.

Don't overdo it. Don't call the interviewer multiple times. The employers surveyed by Accountemps definitely didn't want multiple phone calls. This is your one shot at making another good impression, so use it wisely, but don't overuse it.

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Our Team

Jordan Bakouche, Carly Stockus, Olivia Cameron, Donyae Pannell, and Genevieve Kurtz

Jordan Bakouche, Carly Stockus, Olivia Cameron, Donyae Pannell, and Genevieve Kurtz

 

We hope you found this e-book helpful. Feel free to share it with friends. Good luck with your job search. Please let us know how it goes by sharing your thoughts on social media or connecting with us.