10 years ago (wow, it’s been a long time) I had my first exposure to networking. My dad’s coworker’s wife was a producer on Live! With Regis & Kelly, a show that I loved. When it came to my attention that I had this connection, I asked if it might be okay if I contacted her. Once I had the green light, I sent an email. We set up a time to have a phone conversation and eventually met for coffee. I prepared for those meetings as if it was a serious interview – I learned as much as I could about the show, was able to articulate why I was interested in working in television, and had ample questions ready to throw at her. We ended up hitting it off and she helped me land my first internship.
That’s how a lot of networking happens – you hear that your friend’s uncles’ step daughter mom (anyone!) is doing something that you think is awesome and you find a way to connect with that person. If you do end up getting a meeting you want to come prepared – learn as much as you can about the company, the industry, and even the job function. This research will help you prepare articulate and thoughtful questions – remember it’s all about leaving a good impression. The hope is if they hear of an opportunity (job/internship), they’ll think of you. You are now officially on their radar.
Since that internship I have taken the same approach for every job search I have entered. When I was interested in working for a professional sports league I asked around to see if anyone in my personal network could connect me with anyone working in sports – that lead me to meeting with the VP Business Development for the PGA TOUR, who ended up hiring me. I even used networking to find my most recent job here at Fairfield (Just ask Cath Borgman).
Networking can take different forms – you can network through your personal connections, with Fairfield Alumni, and even through people you connect with on LinkedIn. I have found the hardest part about meeting with people in these types of situation is not talking to them face to face, rather it is the build up to the initial contact. Sending that first email or placing that first call is the hardest part – but you just have to pull the trigger.
Ultimately, if I retrace my steps throughout my professional journey, it becomes clear that all of the jobs that I have been hired for connect back to networking in some way, shape, or form. Moral of the story, networking works.
Assistant Director, Career Planning Center