What Is Networking?
Networking is not simply an information exchange between you and another person. It involves establishing relationships with people who will often become your friends and community of colleagues as you go through your career. They may be able to help you advance your career in many ways, just as you may be able to help them advance theirs. A networking contact might result in any 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, like where jobs are typically listed.
- Tips on your job hunting tools (i.e. resume and/or portfolio).
- Names of people to contact about possible employment or informational interviews.
- Follow-up interview and possible job offer.
Developing your network is easy because you know more people than you think you know. Consider:
- family, friends, roommates, and significant others
- iSchool faculty and staff, fellow students, and alumni
- past and present co-workers
- club, organization, and association members
- people at the gym, the local coffee house, and neighborhood store
- 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 (don’t forget to offer to reciprocate!). Opportunities to network with people arise at any time and any place. Never underestimate an opportunity to make a connection.
And if you’re concerned about being too much of an introvert to comfortably interact with people to help build your professional opportunities? Not a problem – there are plenty of ways to reach out that fit your personality here.
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 (suggestions for MARA & suggestions for MLIS), listservs, newsgroups, and forums 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.