Networking is simply an information exchange between you and another person. It involves establishing relationships with people who can help you advance your career in many ways. A networking contact could result in one of the following:
- “Inside information“ on what's happening in your field of interest, such as an organization's plan to expand operations or release a new product.
- Job search advice specific to your field of interest (where the jobs are typically listed).
- Tips on your job hunting tools (resume and /or portfolio).
- Names of people to contact about possible employment or informational interviews.
- Follow-up interview and a possible job offer.
Developing your network is easy because you know more people than you think you know. Consider:
Your family, friends, roommates, significant others, iSchool faculty and staff, alumni, past and present co-workers, neighbors, club and organization and association members, people at the gym, people at the local coffee house and neighborhood store, and people in your religious community.
These people are all part of your current network, professional and personal. Keep an on-going list of the names and contact information of the people in your network. Ask your contacts to introduce you to their contacts and keep your list growing. Opportunities to network with people arise at any time and any place. Never underestimate an opportunity to make a connection.
There are a number of social networking sites where you can make great professional contacts, such as LinkedIn and Facebook. You can also use discussion groups such as blogs, listservs, newsgroups, and chat rooms to network on the internet. This will help you discover the hot issues in your field of interest, post questions, and find out about specific job openings that are not otherwise posted to the general public.