Networking is about building and maintaining relationships with other people who work in similar careers. If done correctly, networking is the number one way to obtain a position.
The actual process may differ depending on if you already know a person professionally, or if you are making the first attempt to contact a person within your field. What follows is a general outline if you do not know the person and you are making an initial contact.
1. Identify a career path, job title, an organization or alumni/professional of interest to you. You can do this in a variety of ways such as talking with friends, family, neighbors, or professors to see whom they know. Do not forget to ask people in your clubs, organizations, and community service groups if they know professionals in your field of interest. Social media such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are good sources to find people in a variety of career paths too. Individual schools on campus may have their own social media groups and the University of Hartford Alumni Group on LinkedIn as well as the Alumni On-Line Directory are good resources.
2. Research before making any contact with a potential alumni/professional to interview. Research the field and the company beforehand so you can converse intelligently with the alumni/professional. Keep up-to-date about your industry by reading news from professional organizations, journals, or other publications.
3. Prepare questions ahead of time to ask the alumni/professional.
4. Contact the alumni/professional and explain who you are, how you obtained this person’s name, and why you are contacting him/her.
5. Ask when a convenient time would be for the alumni/professional to speak with you and if he/she prefers to correspond by e-mail, phone call, or an in-person meeting.
6. Meet, talk on the phone, or e-mail the person at an agreed upon time. Be professional at all times in your interaction with the alumni/professional.
7. Thank the person for sharing his/her time, expertise and advice.
8. Follow up with a personalized e-mail thank you note or a handwritten thank you note.
Hello, my name is Lydia Jones and I am a recent alumnus from the University of Hartford, the School of Communication. I majored in journalism and Roger Desmond, a professor within the program, recommended I contact you to gain additional information and advice about trends that are occurring in journalism, particularly in television news reporting. If possible, I would like to speak with you about your career path and hear about suggestions you may have about entering this competitive field. My phone number is (860) 555-5555 or, if it is easier for you, my e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
Dear Ms. Newbury: I came across your name on LinkedIn, through the University of Hartford’s Alumni Group. I noticed in your career profile that you are president of the Central Connecticut Society of Human Resource Management Professionals and I would like to speak with you about this organization. I have worked as a Human Resources Assistant for over two years and am looking for ways to become more engaged in the profession. My phone number is (203) 888- 8888 or you may contact me at this e-mail address.
Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.