You may have your resume ready to go but not know where to start your employment search. Networking is a technique to locate others who can help you, starting with people you already know.

Everyone Has a Network!

To find yours, think of everyone you know professionally or socially who might be able to give you ideas about employment or help you locate professionals in your field. Some examples of contacts are: classmates, Hiram College Alumni, parents and relatives, the Career Center, parents of classmates, professors and other college staff, current and former employers, guest speakers you have met, members of professional associations, high school teachers, and family friends.

Use your liberal arts skills. You already know how to communicate with others and how to do research. In this case, you are doing research while talking to people. Start with people you know and practice your professional behavior and questioning skills before you contact strangers.

The key point of networking: each of these contacts may lead to other contacts! Always end networking conversations by asking for the name of another person to contact.

The Process

Keep track of your contacts and record every communication you have with them. You may need the information later.

  1. Clarify why you are calling. Do you need general information about the career field?  Commonly called information interviewing, ask questions such as "I am a communication major, and I would like to do public relations work. What kind of experience will employers expect on my resume?"  Do you need specific information, commonly called job prospecting? For example, "I am a communication major hoping to find a position in public relations. I understand you were the public relations director at the U.S. Speedskating Association, and I wonder if you know how I could locate entry level PR jobs in sports."
  2. Script what you are going to say in advance.  Introduce yourself and give the name of the person who referred you.  Decide what you need to know or how that person can help you, and be specific.  "I understand you used to work for the Cleveland Opera and might be able to tell me about arts organizations in Cleveland." OR "My roommate worked with you at camp last summer and thought you might know how professional camp directors locate vacancies."  
  3. Make the calls even if you are shy.  A study by Princeton University shows that one out of every two people considers themselves to be shy.  Chances are, the person on the other end of the phone experienced shyness when they were conducting their first job search.  Keeping that in mind may help you complete the call.
  4. If the answer is no, they can't help you - don't give up.  Ask if they could recommend someone else.  The more calls, the better.
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Advantages of networking

  • Let professionals in your field know you are searching; they may refer you to colleagues.
  • Get leads on jobs that are never advertised.
  • Improve your interviewing and questioning skills.
  • Gather information about specific potential employers.
  • Find out about career events or professional meetings.

What kind of information might people in your network have?

  • Names of potential employers to contact.
  • Acquaintances who work in your prospective career field who could advise you.
  • Meetings or career events to attend.
  • Professional associations to join as a student member.
  • Friends or relatives in other cities who have professional contacts.