Remember that old babysitter? Revisit old contacts for new opportunities

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In a time when unemployment is up, it is only natural for students to struggle to find work. Old offices aren’t hiring, parents aren’t asking for fear of their own job, so we as students are required to dig up our old phone book contacts and start with A. While phoning every contact may be a little extreme, you never know the possibility that could arise from a single phone call.

Networking is one key to finding that perfect job. Often called the “hidden job market,” networking circles usually start with close family and friends and gradually grow to include industry professionals. It’s important to stay in contact with these people by sending the odd email or phone call and even exchanging business cards.

While looking for a summer job, my friend phoned almost every one of her old contacts. After no luck, she ended up calling a family for whom she used to babysit. She spent a lot of time talking with the father and it just so happened his office needed a summer student. While the job wasn’t glamorous, it was money in her pocket. This example proves the power of networking and although it’s up for debate whether it was luck or strategy, she had a key contact, followed through and sealed the deal with a summer job.

An example where networking went wrong comes from my own past. I attended a conference at my school last October where I met the president of a publishing company. I decided to introduce myself and talk about the industry as I am interested in becoming involved with writing and media.

After finding many things in common and exchanging business cards, I sent her a follow up email the next day. I sent her my resume and she told me to contact her closer to summer. Thinking I made a good impression, it was only natural to assume I might have a job at the company for the summer. However, it blew up in my face.

I sent her a follow up email in the spring like she suggested, and while she did return it saying that we could hopefully work something out for the summer. I followed up two more times after that and did not hear anything back. Thinking back on my decisions, I now feel my crucial mistake was not having a direct conversation with her. Emails are a great way to communicate, but calling her would have been a better way to portray my interest in a job and maybe even seal the deal.

Both examples include communication as a key aspect to networking. Following up is definitely essential to show the contact you are responsible and can take initiative. My suggestion would be to use the telephone because it’s more personal and allows you to express your interest more clearly.

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