Networking doesn’t have to be awkward! More and more jobs can be found through networking versus traditional job posts. Boston University Questrom School of Business has an amazing alumni network that is at your finger tips! Learn more about networking and get tips for using LinkedIn, Questrom Network Resources, and conducting 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.
- Organize your network. Create a spreadsheet and filing system to keep track of names, addresses, titles, emails, resumés sent, responses received, and contacts made. Here’s a template to help you get started!
- 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.
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.
Explore tutorials to mastering LinkedIn HERE. Click the enroll button and create a free account by using your bu.edu email address. After enrolled, access a series of online courses designed by two former LinkedIn employees to help you get the most out of LinkedIn. Whether you are exploring careers, researching companies, growing your network, or looking for a new role, you will find a course that meets your needs.
For additional information check out these LinkedIn Tips Sheets!
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. Watch this video for a step by step guide to informational interviewing and to see a sample conversation.
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?
- 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?
6 Steps to Prepare for an Informational Interview
Tips for Scheduling an Informational Interview via the Phone
Sample Questions to ask your Informational Interview
Tips and Samples for Connection Requests on LinkedIn
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, access the Networking Thank You Note and Future Correspondence Guide.
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