On this page:
Types of Networking
Networking can happen anywhere - from a casual conversation at a social event to
a formal informational interview.
Many people feel threatened by the concept of networking but it doesn’t need to
be intimidating. It’s something most of us do everyday! Everyday encounters like
asking a friend if they know of a great restaurant, or meeting someone on the streetcar,
in the gym, or at the grocery store are all examples of networking. Be flexible
for unplanned opportunities to meet and talk with people. Leave a favorable impression
when conducting yourself in any situation – you never know where these contacts
could lead you in the future!
During your job search, you may want to direct your casual conversations to focus
on information gathering by asking intelligent questions and listening for useful
information. Start off slowly, keep it casual. Enjoy the conversation and don’t
feel pressured to turn everything into a job pitch. If someone looks like they would
be a good contact to pursue further, ask how you can keep in touch.
Formal networking can happen during job fairs and other networking events,
as well as during informational interviews and other one-on-one meetings.
In these situations you are focusing on getting specific information whether it
is on a particular career or industry. Research as much as you can beforehand, and
come up with specific questions to ask.
Where to find contacts for your network
- Work (volunteer, part time, summer, full-time)
- Hobbies/interest groups
- Recreational activities
- Job Fairs
- Information Sessions
- Networking breakfasts
- Conferences/business meetings
Using Networking in Your Job Search
Networking is an essential work search strategy that can
help you access the over 80% of jobs are not advertised. Networking for job search
purposes takes time and is an ongoing activity that you can practice in your day
to day interactions with people. For it to be most helpful, you should strive to
develop reciprocal relationships by offering your assistance if it’s appropriate.
Prepare a 30 second introduction
Whether you are in a formal or an informal situation you may find an opportunity
to talk about yourself and your career goals. For more tips read about Job Fairs & Info Sessions. Here
is a sample 30 second introduction:
"I just graduated with a major in English and am keen on pursuing a career
in journalism. I have been a regular contributor to my school newspaper. My interests
include sports and world affairs and I have traveled extensively. I want to get
some practical experience before I make a decision to pursue further education."
For tips on keeping the conversation going, read more about Business Etiquette.
Although it may be intimidating to some, it can be an effective way to develop contacts
in areas where your traditional network of family and friends have none. The best
way to deal with anxiety is preparation and practice. Develop a “cold” phone script
- introduce yourself
- explaining how you came across their name (if referred by someone else)
- ask if they have a few minutes to talk
- clearly explain what you need
Below is an example of a script used to look for an informational interview contact:
"Hello my name is _______. I’m currently a student at the University of Toronto,
and I’m doing some research on careers in the field of ___________. I’ve researched
using our Career Resource Library but I would like to talk to people in the field
to get a better understanding. Could you spare 20 to 30 minutes someday, when I
could come down and talk to you about your area of work?"
If they agree, arrange a mutually convenient time, remembering that you have to
be flexible to their schedule – they may even talk to you right then, so be prepared
with questions to ask. If they refuse, ask if they can refer you to another source—depending
upon the reason they give you for refusing. Whether they can help you or not, thank
them for their time. For more tips, read the Informational Interviews guide.
Using the internet gives you increased opportunities to network. Facebook, listserv’s,
networking groups such as Linkedin, blogs and YouTube all offer opportunities for
you to connect with people. This is especially advantageous for the introvert who
must be easily intimidated by social situations – just remember that you can’t rely
solely on this method of contact.
It is very important that you keep your online presence professional. Many employers
have surfed the net to screen candidates. An inappropriate blog entry or picture
on YouTube could cause long-term damage to your career prospects.
Keep in touch
For follow up, leave a business card and remember to
ask for their card or contact information. Remember to send a thank you note to
the person. Some other ideas for maintaining a networking relationship incluse,
sending interesting articles, acknowledging achievements, or just meeting for coffee.
For more information on creating a Networking Business Card visit Quintessential Careers.