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What is Networking?

Various studies report that 60 to 85 percent of jobs are found through the process of networking.

Many jobs are found through networking and by directly contacting employers. Talk to people already working in the field and people with knowledge about the field. Consider all your contacts, including alumni, family, friends, employers, professors, business connections, and professional organizations. Maintain visibility and active involvement in campus, social, business, and community activities. Develop your leadership and communication skills.

Networking Defined

There are many definitions for networking. In Power Networking, Donna Fischer and Sandy Vilas define it as making links from people we know to people they know, in an organized way, for a specific purpose, while remaining committed to doing our part, expecting nothing in return.

As relating to your academic and career goals, networking can be viewed as the process of talking to people you know and developing new contacts or referrals to get information about possible careers, jobs and internships.

How do I start the networking process?

  • Clarify the skills and qualifications you have to offer.
  • Determine the types of positions you are most suited for and the type of company you prefer, i.e., industry, size, etc.
  • Decide a geographic area in which you want to work.
  • Know the salary range you are worth and the minimum you must have.
  • Develop your resume.

Identify people who can help you

  • Alumni in your target industry. Access Husky Career Network on the Career Development Center website for a list of alumni willing to talk with students and give input, or view our Alumni Services page for additional ideas.
  • Neighbors
  • Relatives
  • College professors
  • Departmental advisors
  • Former co-workers
  • Fellow church members
  • Casual acquaintances and close friends
  • When you talk to these people, clearly communicate your QUALIFICATIONS, DESIRED POSITION TYPE, GEOGRAPHIC PREFERENCE, AND SALARY REQUIREMENTS. Be clear about your goals and preferences and it will be easy for people to assist you.
  • Keep records of everyone you talk to with the correct spelling of their names, the dates of your conversations, and what you talked about.
  • Remember that the more people with whom you interact, the more chances you will have for meeting the type of contacts you are seeking.

How do I make contacts?

  • Do some informational interviewing or meeting with people working in the type of position and/or industry you are interested in. Save the best contact for last, after you have had a chance to practice.
  • Call up one of your contacts, discuss your goals and qualifications, and ask if you can meet with them to talk about opportunities in their field.
  • When you set up meetings with people, be sure to differentiate between informational interviews and potential employment interviews with contacts. If you are truly looking only for information about a particular industry or organization, do not bring your resume with you and ask about employment opportunities once you arrive. It will damage your credibility and make that employer wary of future informational interviewers. If you have made it clear over the phone that you are looking for employment, however, it is appropriate to bring a copy of your resume with you to the meeting.
  • Personal contact is preferable to using the phone.
  • If using the telephone, ask people if this is a good time to talk. It if is not, call back at the time they specify.
  • Set up a lunch appointment with your contact to talk about goals, your resume, and any job opportunities they may be aware of, or other people they feel you should talk to.
  • Make a point of seeking people out--do not wait to bump into them. Be proactive!
  • Acknowledge the support staff you talk to! They are sometimes your most direct link to the person who has the power to hire you. Their impressions of you can matter.

What do I say when I call to set up a meeting?

  • Ask whether this is a good time to talk -- give people a chance to commit to speaking with you or to make arrangements for a time with which they are more comfortable.
  • Tell them that you are looking for a job and the type of work you are interested in, but that you do not expect them to have a job for you.
  • Tell them why they are a special contact for you. If you have a mutual friend or acquaintance, mention his or her name.
  • Describe your skills briefly. Ask if they know of anyone who might use someone with your skills.
  • Let the person know how she can support your job goal -- by meeting with you, providing insights and information on the current job market in that field, or by suggesting other people with whom you should talk.
  • Thank them for taking the time to talk with you -- be sincere and professional.
  • Keep a journal of all interactions for future reference. Send a Thank You note as soon as possible.

How do I ask for assistance?

  • Be positive!
  • Don't apologize -- you are not doing anything wrong by asking for assistance.
  • Think of how you would feel if someone called you up at work and asked for some help -- especially if you were able to offer advice and support. When you approach people appropriately, they will usually be happy to be of some assistance.
  • Think of networking as planting seeds. The first seeds you plant may not sprout right away, but the more seeds you plant (the more people you talk to), the greater the chance that one of them will eventually sprout and bloom into a job for you. If you talk to five people and each of those five people recommends one or two additional people for you to talk to, think of how many potential allies you will have for your job search.
  • Keep at it! Have fun with it!

30 Second Bio

One of the strongest tools you can use in a networking situation is your 30 second bio. College career counselors and employers alike suggest following a formula for your introduction. According to them, students should provide the following information during their introduction:

  • Name
  • Class (senior, junior, sophomore)
  • Major
  • Opportunities that you are seeking
  • Relevant experience (work, internship, volunteer work)
  • Highlights of skills and strengths
  • Knowledge of the company

Tailor your introduction to each employer based on good research and knowledge of each company -- this will generally impress recruiters. Do your research before any networking opportunity. Most companies have websites that provide information about their products and services. Other resources such as annual reports, press releases, and newspaper coverage are also very helpful and can usually be found on the Internet or in the library with a little digging.

End your introduction by asking a question that will engage the employer in conversation. You might ask: "Could you tell me more about the new (product) you are developing?" or "Could you tell me more about your financial management training program?"

UW Tacoma Career Connectors

Students, alumni, and friends of UW Tacoma are invited to join UW Tacoma Career Connectors, operated by Career Development!

This program is not a job placement service, rather an opportunity to network with someone in a prospective field. It is a chance to ask about the industry, company, your resume, required skills or suggestions for developing your career path.