Networking is Important
In the world of work, networking is, indeed, a very big dealâ€¦Networking comes in many forms; everything from meeting an old friend for a cup of coffee to ask how she likes law school, to having your best friend's father put in a good word for you at his company, to meeting with an older alum from your college to learn more about a career in social work.
How you find Networking Contacts
There are many ways to identify networking contacts. Here are some places to find someone who knows something about a field, organization or school you are considering:
- Your college alumni association or career office networking lists
- Your own extended family
- Your friends' parents and other family members
- Your professors, advisors, coaches, tutors and clergy
- Your former bosses and your friends' and family members' bosses
- Members of clubs, religious groups and other organizations to which you belong
- All the organizations near where you live or go to school
What can these Networking Contacts Tell You?
- They can tell you what it's really like (from their perspective, of course) to work in a given field or organization now. They can also tell you how the field has changed and what they see for the future.
- They can help you understand the aptitudes and training needed to get into and be successful in a particular field.
- They can give you the inside scoop on schools and training programs.
- They can give you insider information on an organization, such as who is in charge, what the culture is like, what kinds of people have held the job you're looking at, what it takes to succeed in that position.
- They can be living demonstrations of what it's like to work in the field. Can you imagine yourself doing what they do?
Every once in a while, the person with whom you're having an informational interview will offer to help move your application along. When that happens, it can be a real advantage for you. But whether you get that offer or not, the nuggets of information you've gathered can be essential in helping you to sort out your options and present yourself more effectively.