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It is a word that is thrown around often in business and defined differently by everyone. In this case, we will define networking as an informal way of identifying any group of people you know or can get to know for the purpose of sharing information.

Networking is a very effective tool to use when marketing or selling a product, service, or yourself! All of the people within your personal, professional, community/organizational, and college campus network can help in a variety of ways. They can serve as links to companies or job opportunities, they can offer valuable advice on careers or job search strategies, they can assist with specific stages of your job search, or they can provide referrals to colleagues. Your ability to successfully master the art of networking can make the difference between finding the perfect lead/contact or missing out on the perfect job opportunity. Networking is an investment. Invest and plan your time wisely and the end result may very well be your dream job.

Networking Plan and Source of Contacts

The best way to begin the networking process is by developing a plan. Begin by making a list of targeted networking contacts. Because this concept in itself can be overwhelming, start by putting your present and potential networking list into four categories.

Basic Commandments of Networking

Do not mass mail. Manage your networking by contacting 4 or 5 career consultants at a time. Think quality over quantity.
Always be prepared, do your research, know what you want from others, prepare questions in advance, and be courteous, polite, and appreciative.
Follow-up, and follow through.
Keep your conversations brief and focused on the topic at hand. Do not monopolize other people's time with personal stories when networking.
Keep your word of confidentiality.
Reciprocate help, share information, ideas, resources, and contacts.
Always follow-up with thank you notes and be courteous for assistance given.
Incorporate networking into your everyday life. Mingle with people you don't already know at meetings, events, and workshops.
Manage your networking contacts by keeping a binder, book, or rolodex on all of them.

family, friends, neighbors, roommates, relatives of friends...

employers (current and former), co-workers, customers, clients, competitors, suppliers, doctors, dentist...

professional and community organizations and associations, clubs, chambers of commerce, volunteer programs...

career center, alumni, staff, faculty, company information sessions, workshops, seminars, classmates, resource books ...

Last Updated 7/18/12