Networking is a career research and job search strategy based upon establishing contacts and cultivating relationships with individuals who can help you identify employment opportunities—without directly asking for a job. These individuals can include friends, acquaintances, neighbors, relatives, alumni, professors, student peers, coworkers, professional colleagues, clergy, politicians, and others. To aid in your networking endeavors, order Student Business Cards.
Surveys show that between 63 and 84 percent of all job hunters obtained their positions by networking, whereas only 11 percent found their job by answering ads and two percent through unsolicited resumes. Networking is more effective than other methods because it helps identify opportunities in the "hidden" job market—jobs known to only a few individuals within an organization. In addition, qualified candidates who apply for positions and also have an internal referral—someone within their target organization, or known to the hiring manager, who can recommend them—have a far greater chance of being selected for an interview. Networking also allows job-seekers to obtain “insider” information about organizational culture and career pathways, expand their network through further introductions, and get crucial feedback on their resumes.
Networking Tips and Strategies
- Make networking a way of life, a social skill that you practice every day. Get training and guidance from our career services professionals on how to do it right.
- Stay organized. Keep track of whom you have contacted, how, when, and the outcome of the contact.
- Develop a brief introduction that identifies you are and clarifies your career goals.
- Ask for and conduct informational interviews.
- Think of how you can benefit your network—by sharing articles, listening to career stories, referring friends for positions that aren’t a fit for you, and introducing people to each other.
- Request a business card from each individual with whom you meet and consider connecting via LinkedIn.
- Continue to build your contact list, even after you have found a job.
- Join a professional organization or two, and make use of its membership directory, conferences, or events.
- Be a good networking referral after you have secured a position. Reciprocity goes a long way.
How to Conduct a Networking Meeting
- Engage in small talk (e.g., the weather, the day’s headlines, etc.) to break the ice.
- Thank your contact. (e.g., “Thank you for taking the time to meet with me. As I indicated during our brief phone conversation last week, I will graduate from the Mailman School of Public Health in May 2022. I am considering a few career options, and I would like to solicit your input.”)
- Give your contact a copy of your resume. Verbally highlight significant accomplishments and interests to enable your contact to make additional, relevant referrals.
- Request advice, strategies, and observations about your goals. Ask for information about a specific job function or industry or employer.
- Ask for additional contacts if not already offered them. Be specific: ask for contacts at your top three target organizations or similar ones, then connect on LinkedIn and ask for introductions to specific people in your contact’s network. Ask how your contact knows them and if you can use your contact's name when contacting them.
- Close the meeting by indicating that you will follow up to let the contact know how your search is progressing and to send any helpful resources their way.
- Don’t neglect to send a formal thank you note or email after the meeting.
- Columbia Mailman Connect - exclusive Mailman School mentoring database
- Columbia University Regional Alumni Clubs
- Columbia University Alumni Directory
- Mailman School LinkedIn Group
- Columbia University LinkedIn Group
- Columbia Career Connections LinkedIn group
- Your undergraduate Alumni Directory
- If you plan to be based in Washington, DC, for the summer, send an email in May requesting to be added to the Washington, DC, events email list, managed by the Columbia Office of Government and Community Affairs. (And come to the spring break Mailman School DC Career Week event—email firstname.lastname@example.org for details)