Networking doesn’t have to be awkward! More and more jobs are found through networking versus applying to traditional job posts. Boston University Questrom School of Business has an amazing alumni network that is at your finger tips! Learn to network like a pro with tips on LinkedIn, The Career Advisory Network and informational interviews.
- Develop a firm grasp of job search basics. Your basics should include researching industries and positions, writing effective resumés and cover letters to highlight your related work experience and projects, and brushing up on your interview skills.
- Conduct a self-assessment. Talk to your career counselor about exercises and tools that are available. Research job descriptions and industries to see what’s out there and what appeals to you. Remember, you need to be able to communicate what you want and what you can offer when speaking with your contacts.
- Decide how to organize your network. Create a spreadsheet and filing system to keep track of names, addresses, titles, emails, resumés sent, responses received, and contacts made.
- Communicate with your network. Initiate contact and be sure to follow up your meetings with a thank-you note! Remember to be assertive, not aggressive, and always be clear about your reasons for contact.
- Initiate informational interviews. One of the best ways to gain more information about an occupation or industry—and to build a network of contacts in that field—is to talk with people who currently work in the field. Remember, the purpose of the informational interview is to obtain information, not to get a job.
The Career Advisory Network (CAN) brings Boston University students and alumni together for informational discussions about careers. CAN is a great way to make initial contacts in a new city or to establish career connections in a particular field. CAN is not a job referral network and advisors should not be expected to provide internships or job openings. Alumni volunteers on the Career Advisory Network are available to talk with you informally, share their experiences, and help you clarify your goals. CAN advisors will be glad to speak with you about:
- How they got started in their profession
- Their job responsibilities and working environment
- The impact of work on their personal lives
- Graduate school
- Employment trends in their fields
You can use the network to access the names of volunteers by a variety of fields. After reviewing the listings, you can obtain the names, addresses, telephone numbers, or e-mail addresses of career advisors with whom you might like to set up an informational interview. Students can access the Career Advisory Network using their BU e-mail address (email@example.com) and Kerberos password. Students may also access a link to CAN via the Student Link under the “Work” tab. Alumni can log in using their alumni login name (not the full alumni e-mail address) and password.
LinkedIn is a place to find and leverage professional opportunities, now and throughout your career. LinkedIn enables you to:
- Present yourself and your professional capabilities
- Find and reconnect with colleagues and classmates
- Leverage powerful tools to find and reach the people you need
- Build a powerful network of trusted professionals
- Discover professional relationships and opportunities
- Tap into inside connections and information
- Get the edge that gives you competitive advantage
There are already 100+ million professionals in the LinkedIn Network and that number is growing fast. Whether you seek a job, a hire, a reference, a sales lead, an expert, or an inside connection at one of 2+ million companies, LinkedIn is an irreplaceable resource for building your professional relationships and achieving your goals.
For additional information check out these LinkedIn Tips Sheets!
Remember the purpose of your call is simply to obtain an appointment or information. The following might help you get past likely obstacles:
- Carefully consider what you wish to say before you make a call. If necessary, write a brief script and practice it.
- Know what results you would like from the conversation. If you have a clear idea of what you want, you are less likely to be side-tracked or hang up before you have accomplished your goal.
- Be as presentable over the phone as you are in person. Always identify yourself right at the beginning and sound enthusiastic. It is also important to be polite and reasonable. Do not be dismissed because of arrogance.
- Use an affirmative and articulate manner. If you sound tentative, it’s easier for the listener to dismiss your request.
- Follow up on leads as soon as possible. Opportunities have a way of disappearing very quickly.
Overcoming Phone Obstacles
- If the person with whom you need to speak is never in the office, ask an assistant when the person will return or if there is a better way to contact him or her. Sometimes a clear, concise voicemail is the best way to introduce yourself. Often, calling before 9am or after 5pm is a good time to reach someone.
- If you have to leave a message, be specific about where and when you can be reached. Be sure your own voicemail message is professional in tone and content.
- If following up on a contact, here are some responses to “May I ask why you are calling?”: 1) “I’m calling in response to a letter from Mr. Smith.” 2) “Mary Jones suggested that I call/follow up.” or 3) “This is about the letter that I recently sent.”
- Always be sure to be respectful to the staff that may answer the phone or greet you before a meeting.
- Prepare a brief statement about your background that you think will be of greatest interest to the contact.
- Be very specific. “I am trying to learn all I can about the finance industry and would like to arrange an informational interview.”
- When are you available? Have some times in mind. “How is Monday or Thursday after 2:00 or Wednesday before 12:00?”
- Whenever possible, meet your contact in person so that he or she can get to know you and your unique strengths.
Informational interviewing is one of the most important parts of successful career planning and helps you obtain information about your target career fields, industries, and markets. It also helps build a network of contacts who can help you now or in the future.
Why Go On an Informational Interview?
- Obtain data about a particular career, including the specific duties, and what it takes to succeed
- Discover if your interests, personality, and values will be satisfied in the field
- Receive feedback on your potential to succeed in this career field
- Get “market-based” information on what job opportunities exist in a given field, industry, or market
- Practice describing your skills and goals in a less threatening situation
- Expand your network and open doors at your target companies
- Determine what it takes to break into the field
Who Do I Contact?
- Career Advisory Network
- Friends and relatives
- Former and current employers/coworkers
- Faculty and administrators
- Fellow students
- Community and civic leaders
- Government representatives
- Professional association members
- People you read about in newspapers and magazines
- People listed in directories of companies and associations
- Conference speakers from your target companies/industries
- Regional networking groups
- Online networking groups (i.e., LinkedIn)
How Do I Prepare?
Conduct a thorough self-evaluation. Know, and be prepared to describe, who you are, what you can do, and why you believe in your potential to succeed. Demonstrate your interest by doing some preliminary research on the career field and market you’d like to learn more about. Contact possible interviewees by phone, email or letter. Explain who you are, how you got their name, why you are interested in learning more about the field/job or industry, and request a 20- to 30-minute meeting. If you do not speak with them directly, let them know when you will follow up. Do not ask for a job or send a resume unless requested. Create a specific agenda. Your contact is giving you valuable time; don’t waste it. You called the meeting, you set the agenda. Develop questions to fit the organization, the industry you have explored, and your particular situation and experience level. Some suggested questions:
- What are your major responsibilities?
- How did you reach your current position?
- How does your job fit into the organization or department?
- What skills, education, and experience are required?
- What are typical entry-level jobs in your field?
- What is the career path in your field/organization?
- What courses or work experience would you recommend?
- What is the job market like in your field? What future growth or job outlook do you anticipate?
- Any suggestions for how to conduct my job search?
- Can you recommend any publications or associations?
- Can you recommend anyone that I contact for additional information? May I use your name?
Questrom Connect is a career tool initiated by the Feld Career Center and the Office of Development and Alumni Relations for Questrom School of Business students. We would like to encourage students to reach out to alumni and other industry experts in order to gain valuable insights into potential career paths. Questrom Connect matches students, depending on their career goals and interests, with alumni volunteers to provide students with informational conversations, job shadowing, career advice, mentoring and more.
- Log on
- Click on the Student Registration tab and fill out the required details
- Receive email confirmation
- Click on the link provided in the email in order to set up and complete your profile
Within 24 hours after meeting an individual for an informational interview, at a career fair, or networking event, you should always send a “thank you” note. Whether it is thanking them for taking the time to speak with you or providing insights to their organization, it is important to show gratitude for their time and will help you start building a professional rapport. After the “thank you” note, you may always want to consider touching base with them at varying intervals for different reasons. Here are some more tips:
- Thank you notes should not be overly long; on an email letter the recipient should not have to scroll down to view the entire letter. Show appreciation and interest in what they shared.
- A separate thank you note should be sent to each person with whom you meet at a career fair or meet and greet. Each note should be personalized to the individual and should attempt to mention different things.
- Reference something specific about your conversation with the individual. This will not only remind them of the encounter, but will help in reminding them who you are the what they spoke about with you specifically.
- If they indicated next steps during your conversation, be sure to complete those and mention such in your note.
- When following up later in the relationship, make sure you are doing so in a respectful time frame and providing them with information that has a purpose.
For more information about thank you correspondences and how to follow up after, please click here.