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Networking is one of the most, if not the most, important tools in your job search. Since most job and internship opportunities are never posted, job candidates often learn about job postings through their professional and personal networks.
Tips for Successful Networking
- Be ready to network any given moment. You can network at a conference, wedding, or even a sporting event. Therefore, you should prepare a 30-second oral resume or self introduction that will catch the person's interest and will allow you to confidently share your information and your career goals. To begin establishing your network, go where people are participating in groups, campus/community organizations or committees will help you get connected. Don't wait for networking to just happen.
- First impressions are key. Make sure you establish and maintain eye contact and listen more than you talk. When engaging with someone for the first time, break the ice by asking open-ended questions such as, 'how did you get started in your field, what do you enjoy most about this profession, or what advice would you give someone just starting in the field?'
- The best networkers are the best listeners. Individuals will speak with you if you are not only talking about yourself. Pay attention to nonverbal cues from the individual indicating he or she is ending the conversation.
- Value quality over quantity. If you are able to have 5-7 quality connections with individuals at a large event, consider it a success.
- Keep a record of the individuals you have met and what you discussed so you don't lose the connections. Ask for business cards and record important points from your conversation on the cards for future reference. If you offer to send information or make a promise to do something, always follow-up.
- Maintain your network; it is an on-going process. Be sure to share good news, information, resources and success stories with your network, do not only communicate with them when you need something.