You will hear time and again how important it is to Network, we’ve all heard, “it’s not what you know but who you know!” Although it’s important to have the what to get the job, it’s often the who that will get you the interview!
The important thing about networking is that it requires time. You’ll never know if someone you meet today will be helpful to you in your career search down the line, so always get contact information and stay in touch! Remember, it’s not only older people who will have the power of connection, your peers will be valuable assets as well! If you’re looking for an international career, it is especially important that you stay in touch with the contacts (friends, teachers, etc.) that you made while studying abroad. Having international contacts doesn’t only sound impressive, but could be very useful!
It’s not only about who you meet, but who they know! Once you’ve established a contact, ask their permission to use them as a reference. They might be too busy to make an introduction, but if you can get the contact information of the CEO of the company you want to work for, you can say that you know “so and so” and they gave you the contact information.
Thank you notes go a long way!
This classic gesture shows that you are serious and thoughtful. At the very least, send a thank you email, but to get the full effect, it should really be a card, sent via snail mail! This will be sure to leave a lasting impression. Thank you notes aren’t just for interviews, send them out whenever someone goes out of their way to help you out, such as when they introduce you to an important contact!
Professional Conferences / Career Fairs
Be sure to take advantage of opportunities such as professional conferences and career fairs. Almost any career field you can think of will have annual national or regional conferences. The information you will gain from attending such gatherings will be useful. But even more important is to attend the social receptions following these events. This is where you can really get to know the professionals at the conferences in a casual setting. But remember, just because it’s a casual setting, you still have to be respectable, make sure the impression you’re leaving is a positive one!
If you are interested in a career in international education, NAFSA, the association of International Educators, has an annual national (really international) conference in June, as well as regional conferences in the Fall.
With tools like Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin, technology has made it very simple to keep track of people, and network. With these tools, you have an automatic audience for whatever you have to say and a ready-made list of contacts who might be able to help you out. So, for starters, when you are looking for a job, make your intentions public, you’ll never know who might be able to give you an introduction or advice.
Make sure you are mindful of what you are posting on these sites as well. Potential employers will be looking you up, you’ll want to make sure they don’t find anything offensive or damaging to your image.
Linkedin.com is a networking site for professionals. You can connect with friends and professional acquaintances, follow companies and request introductions. Everybody on Linkedin is there to network, so don’t be shy, any contact you have will be happy to help out and make an introduction!
Remember, networking is a two way street! You will most likely be in the position to be the connector in the future, so remember to reciprocate!