How to make networking work for you
All good things come to an end. By that I mean, one day, when school is over, we must enter the real world. For me, this day may be sooner than I’d like to admit. The job search has begun, and resume building has taken over much of my time. One question that I’ve been asking myself for some time now is: What is the best way to find the right job for ME? Well, one option is through networking.
Ah, networking. Many people say to do it, but HOW do you do it? How do you actually make it work for you? Here are a few things I’ve learned about networking along the way, and some tips I’m using to (hopefully) become successful in this job searching process!
Firstly, attend events, and introduce yourself. Some people are bad with names, and some people are bad with faces – but giving them the chance to meet you in person will increase the likelihood that they remember either your name or your face, and ultimately actually remember who you are. After every networking session, no matter how informal, send a follow-up email to thank them for their time. If you specifically spoke about employment opportunities, you can include a cover letter in this email as well. You need to give them something by which they will remember you, something that makes you stand out. By increasing your chances to be in contact with them, you’re doing yourself a favour by staying in the front of their minds.
Secondly, it’s all about “the strength of weak ties.” When you’re looking for jobs, it ‘s seemingly never your friend who is looking to hire someone for a job that is perfect for you (as convenient as that would be). Rather, it is some sort of extended network (your sister’s neighbour’s brother, your dad’s friend’s friend, etc) who may know of a great position for you. Don’t be afraid to leverage these networks; use the people who you already know and who are close to you to bridge these gaps and get a conversation started. Start building your professional network early and continuously – it’s never too early (or too late!) to start.
Lastly, keep in touch with people. If you had a professor from your undergraduate degree who acted as a reference for you, keep them updated on your progress. Send intermittent updates on the status of your applications, and how you’ve been doing thanks to their help. It doesn’t have to be often, but maintaining these communication channels is very important so that you can maintain the strength of your network as you continue to build it.
Overall, networking can be a vital tool when you’re searching for jobs. CaPS also has some great resources on campus if you’re looking for advice on how to write a CV or cover letter, or how else you can search for both academic and industry jobs. At the end of the day, not every job can be found through online searches, so make use of your professional network, because you never know what may be available! Best of luck searching for your dream job!