Networking is about relationship building. It is the process of establishing and fostering connections to develop a reciprocal support system. You can help your network contacts by offering your assistance, connections, and expertise, while your contacts can help you as you grow as a student and professional. People in your network can offer advice as you explore major and career interests, research job or internship opportunities, and pursue your goals.
- Contacts in your network can provide insider information about career fields and companies you might want to explore.
- Your network can give you advice on where to look for jobs or to review your resume.
- Connections can alert you to desirable and unadvertised job openings. Many employers utilize referrals from employees or friends to fill positions before they advertise.
- Getting referred to a job from a contact can give you an edge on other applicants.
- Connections may refer you to other people who are in a unique position to help or advise you.
Every person you meet has the potential to help you in an unexpected way, or to connect you with someone who can. Keep an open mind about who is in your network:
- Professors and instructors
- Career and academic advisors
- UI alumni and the greater Vandal community
- Friends and classmates
- Family and their friends
- Professionals working in your field
- Past and present co-workers and supervisors
- Student and professional association members
- Members of local organizations (e.g., Boise Young Professionals)
- Connections on social media (e.g., LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram)
- People you meet through everyday interactions—your hair stylist, barista, doctor, dentist, local corner store staff, just to name a few
- Don't be discouraged if networking initially seems intimidating to you; it is a skill set that will develop over time with practice.
- Start with people you know. You may have a family friend or past classmate who works in your field of interest. Consider reaching out to them to ask for advice (don't focus solely on asking for a job, since this may seem self-interested). Focus on learning from their experience; you never know what a simple conversation could lead to.
- If you are networking for a specific purpose (such as finding a summer internship), clarify your own goals before going into a conversation. What kind of internship are you looking for, and what locations are you open to? Knowing what you are looking for makes it easier for others to help you.
- Take every opportunity to ask people in your network for advice. Do they have any ideas about where to find a summer internship in your field? What advice do they have for someone hoping to go into this career?
- Put yourself in situations where you will have a chance to meet new people and network. Career Services hosts career fairs and networking night events that are excellent networking opportunities. Professional conferences, workshops, and community events are also great places to network.
- Consider doing an informational interview or job shadow with a professional in your field of interest. This is a great way to gain insight and build a new connection.
- Use social media such as LinkedIn both to create and maintain relationships. Keep your profile up to date to ensure that you can be found by future contacts.
- If you have a good conversation or connection with someone, get their business card and follow up with a thank you email. This will help to solidify the connection and create an easier path to be in touch in the future.
- LinkedIn – The world's largest professional network
- Boise Young Professionals – This organization provides business and social networking, professional and leadership development, and community and civic involvement opportunities.
- U of I Office of Alumni Relations – Find ways to connect with other Vandals