What Is Networking?
Did you know that roughly 80% of jobs are not posted publicly? The reason for this is that employers like to hire who they know and who they like. Many times, the person who gets the job isn’t the most qualified, it’s the person that has a connection to the company. Most hiring is friends and acquaintances hiring other trusted friends and acquaintances.
So, it’s up to you to get out there, talk to people, and build relationships. Whether you realize it or not, if you’ve ever talked to a professor, chatted with a friend, or made conversation with someone at the grocery store, you’ve already networked!
Building Your Network
Whether you realize it or not, you’re networking every day and everywhere you go. You are networking when you strike up a conversation with the person next to you in line, introduce yourself at a party, meet a friend of a friend, catch up with a former co-worker, or stop to chat with your neighbor. Everyone you meet can help you move your job search forward.
Informational interviews are an integral part of networking. More than just building your network, informational interviews are intentional and targeted. Informational interviews can be in person, like meeting someone for coffee or visiting them at their office, or they can also be conducted via phone or video chat.
Use an informational interview to help you learn about potential majors and careers and how others apply their education in the workplace. You can also use informational interviews to gain insight about a specific role or company before applying. This insight can help you determine if the company or role is a good fit for you and how to be a strong applicant.
LinkedIn is a professional networking site where you can build your online brand, research careers and companies, identify and connect with potential networking contacts, search for jobs, and much more. Many students say they know they “should” be using LinkedIn, but aren’t quite sure how. Here are a few tips for getting the most out of LinkedIn.
Create Your Online Brand
In today’s digital age, having and maintaining a professional online presence is essential. Employers, networking contacts, friends, and others are looking for you online. Make sure what they find is what you want them to find by building a strong LinkedIn profile, including a detailed overview of your professional experience.
There are many sections you can add to your profile, but at a minimum, you should include:
- An appropriate photo: a clear headshot of you, with no other people in the photo; make sure the background is not distracting
- A professional summary of who you are and what you want people to know about you
- A listing of your experiences with detailed descriptions (this includes paid and unpaid work, volunteer positions, club involvement, and beyond)
- Colorado State University in your Education section
Just by looking at the profiles of professionals in your fields of interest, you can learn about their career trajectory, where they’ve worked, what skills they’ve built, what people with different majors go on to do, how they talk about themselves and their accomplishments, what groups they belong to, and more! This can give you inspiration for your own career exploration, help you round out your profile by mirroring what others have listed, and even prepare you for an interview by getting the inside scoop on those you will be interviewing with.
Company pages are another great research tool, whether you’re actively searching for jobs or internships, or just exploring possibilities. By visiting a company’s page on LinkedIn, you can find out news and updates about the company, current job openings, current employees and how you’re connected, and even similar companies that might not be on your radar yet.
LinkedIn is a great tool to help you expand your professional network. If you’re just getting started, reach out to people you already know first. Classmates, current and former co-workers, professors, and even family members make a great foundation for you to build upon.
Once you’ve found someone you want to connect with, keep in mind these tips:
- See if you have a connection in common. If you do, send a message to the mutual connection to ask for an introduction.
- See if you have a group in common. If you do, find them in the members list to send a message.
- If you don’t have a group or connection in common, invite them to connect. Always “add a note” to explain why you’re reaching out to them in particular.
You’ll likely receive invitations to connect in return. LinkedIn strongly recommends that you only accept invitations to connect from people you know. Remember that you have the option to accept, reply, ignore or report requests as spam.
Find and Connect with CSU Alumni
There are two easy ways to find and connect with CSU alumni on LinkedIn.
- Visit Colorado State University’s alumni page to browse alumni profiles by where they live, what they do, where they work and what they studied while at CSU.
- There are several CSU LinkedIn groups that bring students and alumni together for general networking or around a common interest. Join the groups that make the most sense for you.
Beyond this, there are so many ways to build your network.
- Professors/advisors: who do your professors know in the field?
- Family and Friends: You never know who they might know!
- Networking clubs/groups, like NoCoNet
- Meetups – connect with people who share the same interests
- Conferences and Professional associations
- Clubs & organizations
- Religious organizations/functions
- Continuing education & personal enrichment activities
- Social gatherings
- Alumni events
- Volunteering and charity events
- Business gatherings & community events
- Your everyday activities!