Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Nerworking! Networking! Networking!

Being a natural introvert (INFJ all the way, and proud of it!), the idea of networking never appealed to me. I still don't even have a Facebook profile (although I did create a fake one for a day, but that was only to get a free in-game item in Pangya) or a Twitter account! If I need to connect with my friends, I just call them up, text them, or chat on Google. I also always had a feeling that it was all about making connections with people in high positions, which I always thought of as a very underhanded and unfair way to get a job! Now, however, I wish that I had started this when I first graduated!

Networking is a great way to find out what you are interested in. For the entire four years of college my only reason for being there was to study Russian History, but I knew I didn't want to go into academia, so grad school was out of the question. Other than this, I had no idea what I wanted to do, and it took me a lot of trial and error to get to where I am now! After talking to the career councilors at my university, they suggested that I look into being a paralegal, since that's what a lot of other History majors do right after graduation. I started talking to alumni who had been paralegals, and from what I heard about it, I knew this wouldn't be the right career for me. Then I started looking into Editing and Publishing. When I talked to alumni in these fields, I found out that unless you know really high up people, there is very little chance of getting a job at a publishing firm, and the work sounded boring, so I left that alone too.

Networking is a great way to gain relevant advice about the industry/field you want to work in. Naturally, the best way to know what an industry or particular job is like, or how to get into that industry would be the people who are already in it. Those who are already in that position can tell what they did to get to where they are now, what steps you would need to take, and what employers are looking for in that industry/field. When I thought I wanted to have a career in law, I talked to people who had been paralegals, and found out that most law firms only hire people as paralegals if they want to go to law school. I knew I had absolutely no interest in going to law school, so this was another reason why I knew being a paralegal was not for me.

I found this to be particularly helpful for me, since when I went to talk to Career Services, I heard one thing, but then got completely different information from my networking contacts. In my experience, I've found that the networking contact gave much more relevant and updated information about different careers and the job search in general than I ever got from Career Services.

Networking is a great way to get you name out there. With hundreds of people applying for the same jobs, getting your name out to as many potential employers as possible can be a huge push in the right direction. To start, let everyone know that you are looking for a job, especially people who are in the industry or field that you are interested in working in. Even when you've had an informational interview with someone, ask them to pass your information along to anyone else they might know. I know this sounds a little like pimping yourself, but it can actually be very helpful.

I was able to find out about several positions before they even became public by asking people I had networked with if they knew of any opening. I also got an interview this way though a contact who knew the person in charge of hiring. Since I had applied to this position before and didn't get an interview, I probably would not have gotten one the second time around either if someone hadn't put in a good word for me. Although, this interview did not lead to a job, I was able to gain valuable interviewing experience from it, and it showed me the importance of networking.  

Ways to Network
The best way to network is to contact the person you want to talk to directly via a professionally written email or letter. These contacts can be foud by search association networks or by looking on the company or organization website. There is also LinkedIn, but I have yet to have much success as far as job searching and networking with this method.

I did create a LinkedIn account, but only because the career counselors are always preaching how easy it is to get a job on LinkedIn. When I did connect with other people I knew, only depressed me even more, because everyone I knew had super important sounding jobs like Assistant to the Director and stuff. Of course, I know they're jobs aren't as great as they sound (they're probably just handing out coffee to the director all day, or doing monotonous paper work), but the thing is that they're jobs just sound so important, whether they are or not.


  1. I'm not the biggest on networking either. HAHAHA I'm friendly and personable, but just never liked "business card" gatherings. It's important to connect though and you presented some awesome options.

    1. Thanks! You know, I would think you would be really into networking, but you're right, being friendly and personable is much easier than formal networking!

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