Demystifying “Networking”: Why Every Student & Grad Should Start Making Connections Today

by

If you’re a soon-to-be or recent graduate, and haven’t decided what career path to take, this article is for you.

Networking is an incredibly important part of building your career. It’s an investment that pays off time and time again, whether you’re looking for work, seeking advice from an expert, or even considering a professional partnership. However, it’s a skill that also takes time to perfect, so it’s important to begin early!

Why network if I haven’t decided on a career path?

Just because school is ending, it doesn’t mean your education is over. There is much to learn upon graduation, including: what career paths are intriguing, which of your fields of interest are growing, how you will define a “successful career,” who could be your next mentor, and how to get a foot-in-the-door of your dream-job.

The key to overcoming these problems is networking. Building relationships, asking questions, and taking an interest in other people and their careers is the most powerful tool you have for finding the right fit. Networking can be uncomfortable, but it’s necessary, and it gets easier the more you do it.

When connecting with a new contact, ask yourself these two questions:

  • Does this person have experience in the field I’m interested in?
  • Can this person connect me with someone who does?

Things to remember while networking:

Networking is not about you. It’s about exploring other people’s careers. You will learn a lot from their career progression – plus, they’ll probably enjoy sharing with you.

Your goal is not to land a job. While that result would be nice, you are there to ask for their expertise, and learn how to achieve your career goals. You must ask how to get a job, instead of just asking them to give you one. If you’re desperate for a job, it will show – but everyone appreciates genuine curiosity and a desire to learn.

Take your time! Finding a company, industry, or person you find interesting isn’t going to happen overnight. But the more you dig, the more rewarding it will be when you find the right fit.

Questions to ask your connection:

  • What sorts of resources should I look up to better verse myself in this field?
  • What types of courses would you recommend to succeed in this field?Can you describe a typical day in your role?
  • What’s the most important thing to know as I enter this industry?

OK great. Now who should I talk to?

First, see if any adults you know have careers in a field you’re interested in. Think about your parents, teachers, relatives, and even your friends’ parents. Asking one of them out to coffee or lunch can be a great and much more comfortable way to learn more about a certain line of work.

Second, check LinkedIn. Actively seek job openings, and once you’ve found a job that interests you, find the contact information for that company’s human resources professional, and invite them to connect.

Third, use your university or college network! Career fairs are great if you’re still in school – if you’re a graduate, be sure to utilize your alumni network.

Finally, use TalentEgg! You can use TalentEgg to search for jobs that interest you. Because these jobs are tailored specifically for students or recent graduates, you’ll be more likely to find jobs that are tailored to your skillset. You can also find lots of resources on our site.

One final piece of advice

The more conversations you have, the more people you’ll meet. In the end, this will lead to more options being discovered, and your learning which line of work interests you the most. If you aren’t sure what to do with your career next, find something that interests you and go learn about it. You must find a career that aligns with your intellectual curiosities – not just one that pads your wallet.

How did you get over your networking inhibitions? Share your story in the comments!

Share
About the author

Hana Bell is an English Literature and Communication student at McGill University. As a dancer, she is passionate about using her creative side as a communicative outlet by exploring links between the arts industry, philanthropy, and marketing. She has experience working in marketing at Davis LLP, a Vancouver-based law firm, and plans on attending law school upon her graduation from McGill. Follow her on LinkedIn and Twitter!