From Career Services

Networking in New Ways-One of the Best Ways to Find Employment

Old-fashioned networking remains the best foolproof job search method there is: meeting people face-to-face and sharing information. Visualize sitting at a soda fountain counter eating ice cream and someone sits down beside you. Do you connect or don’t you? We can update this encounter in one way or another by adding an “elevator” speech and a business card so that one is better prepared for these chance or scheduled meetings. For the most part, simply being cordial provides the strongest foundation for this beneficial meeting. I can attest to the benefits, having frequently networked on airline flights and receiving information for our computer science and engineering majors just by greeting and meeting passengers.

What is it that makes this such a powerful tool for job seekers, yet many remain hesitant to engage in it? I suggested a local professional meeting for one of our marketing graduates to attend in order to meet others in the profession. He was reluctant to take my advice, especially if he had to go alone. One alumnus confessed to being “networked out” for now, perhaps meaning the results he expected were not clearly, nor quickly, evident.

Could it be that relational abilities and opportunities to network have changed in our advancing technical and expanding mobile society, making this tool more challenging to execute and manage? This sounds like modern dating to me in some ways, and there are similarities. Nevertheless, a renewed networking mind-set and lifestyle may be necessary to equip our students to make that important exchange. Just as there are formats and proven methods for resumes and interviews, the same applies to networking. In an exciting twist, it seems to be catching on in new ways, especially since networking has gone electronic on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Electronic services are allowing for more connections, but it must not necessarily be construed as the real thing. 

Here are some ideas to help your students think constructively about networking for themselves:

  • People are eager to help and exchange or pass on information.
  • There are newly developed avenues designed specifically for the purpose of passing on information.
  • Networking is a give and take process. The exchange is both ways.
  • Networkers are great at introducing a seeker to other professionals.
  • Professionals are generally interested in helping students get started.
  • Anyone can network today given the variety of gateways available.
  • This method can get you into the hidden job market where most of the jobs are.
  • Networks work over time, so building and maintaining them is crucial.
  • Sources of networking are many: friends, parents, professors, alumni, social media, acquaintances, professional meetings and Internet discussion groups.
  • Planning for unplanned networking can make it easier and more effective.
  • Students can build networks while in college that will last.
  • Face-to-face contact remains essentially the No. 1 way to network.

Karen Lamb, assistant director of advising and curriculum development at
Arizona State University, summarizes this networking concept in her article, “The Key to a Successful Job Search: Making Personal Connections” (

"Making professional connections is the critical element that sets candidates apart, especially in today’s competitive market. The relationships you build when conducting a job search are the beginning of a professional network that will serve you well throughout your career.”  I say, let’s be more old-fashioned in our networking – being genuinely friendly again – and life will be better overall.

Bonnie Jerke

Career Services:  Vocation and Calling
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