Networking Etiquette And Guidelines For Students And New Grads

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How do I make connections and find a job?

It’s not just what you know. It’s who you know.

Networking is the process of making contact and exchanging information with other people. It involves building relationships and creating a personal set of contacts that may be able to help you in some way and that you may be able to help in some way.

Networking is attentively and consciously meeting people, being interested in them, remembering who they are and what they do, and exchanging information with them over time.

Networking can be used in many ways in your job search and throughout your career to:

  • Conduct field research: Learn about a specific field that you are interested in.
  • Explore careers: Learn about what types of work exist in different fields.
  • Obtain information about organizations: Learn about an organization for which you might want to work.
  • Obtain career advice: Ask people in the world of work about how you might prepare yourself for a certain field or position.
  • Seek job-search advice: Ask for suggestions of people you might contact for information about job or internship possibilities.
  • Create your own job or internship: Identify an activity or a type of work that you would like to do, and find someone who is willing to let you do it.

Networking etiquette and guidelines for students and new grads

No matter who you contact, etiquette is important in building and maintaining relationships.

  • Be well prepared. Be able to articulate as much as you know about what you are looking for in your career, job search, etc.
  • Always be professional, courteous, and considerate.
  • Be interested in the people you meet. Most people enjoy the chance to tell you about their own careers and activities.
  • Be genuine. Possess a sincere desire to learn. Be honest in asking for advice. If you are only interested in asking for a job, it will show, no matter how you disguise it.
  • Be gracious. Write a thank you letter when people take time to meet with you.
  • Stay in touch. Update people in your network when you make significant progress in your research or job search.
  • Give back. Know enough about the people you meet to keep their needs in mind as you continue to network. You may be able to pass on ideas, articles, and contacts that will interest them.
  • Use good judgment about the amount of time you request when you contact people. Do not overstay your welcome, and do not “return to the well” too many times.
Photo credit: Coffee time by Bali T. on Flickr
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About the author

Clare Tattersall is the Manager of Career Development and Community Based Learning at Huron University College at Western University in London, Ont. She oversees the international exchange and internship programs, offers career counseling and development appointments and workshops, and has developed and implemented a co-curricular certificate in Leadership and Professional Development. Clare holds a Master’s degree in English Language and Literature and has over 10 years of experience in the communications sector and post-secondary administration.