Networking Resources for MJs
What is networking?
Networking is simply meeting people, gather information and developing a relationship. Meeting with other professionals can give you advice, perspective, mentoring and introductions to people and sometimes job leads that will help you throughout your career. Networking is not so much about who you currently know, although that helps - it is about people you meet and the relationships that develop. Networking can take place anywhere - in an elevator, on an airplane, at a school event or a meeting of a professional association - anywhere two people are talking and building a relationship.
What Networking Is Not
The act of networking can have a bad connotation because there are people in the world who do not network correctly. Schmoozing, pressing the flesh and working a room are not networking. Asking for a job is not networking. Never ask for a job when you are networking. It is the fastest way to end a conversation because most people you meet will not have a job to give you. What they will have are their expertise, time, ideas and information, which may lead to a relationship and to the possibility of a job or job lead sometime in the future. Meeting with an alum of professional contact to gather information about that person's career path is networking, and you should begin to hone this skill as soon as possible.
Why You Should Network
Distinguishing yourself from other applicants is essential to obtaining an interview. It is not unusual for a company to place a job announcement on a job posting website and receive hundreds of applicants within days. Career counseling professionals estimate that almost 60% of all jobs that are filled never get advertised - no placement on a job posting site or company HR website, no professional recruiter or headhunter, no career fair. So, how do people learn about these opportunities? Current employees of the company often tell the people who have networked with them when a position is opening and/or help them to get an interview for the position. All this occurs before the company advertises the opening.
- Update and polish your resume: Be sure to have your resume polished and ready to share in case one of your contacts requests it.
- Research and find common ground: Before contacting anyone, begin by assessing your personal network. Think about all of the people you know (family, friends, classmates, current or former employers or co-workers, past or current faculty, etc). Let the people in your network know about your career interests and ask who they might suggest you speak with to learn more about the field that you are interested in. Beyond your own personal network, there are numerous resources that will help you expand your network. Join professional associations, read trade publications and talk to MJ faculty members. Find a Loyola MJ grad or a graduate of your undergraduate institution. Look for alumni in your city. Look for someone you have a connection to. They are more likely to share their time with you if you have something in common.
- Contact your MJ program administrator: To gain access to databases or listservs of alumni specific to your MJ program, contact your MJ program administrator.
- Create your correspondence asking for an informational meeting: Create an email message asking for a 15-20 minute informational meeting with a potential networking contact. An informational interview is part of a research process, one in which information and contacts are gathered from people who are already working in target positions or organizations. The structure of the informational interview is one in which you ask the majority of questions and direct the course of the discussion, as opposed to a job interview in which you are answering questions about yourself.
Why do informational meetings?
- To research job market information
- To help clarify, define and redefine your interests and goals, gaining self-awareness through the process
- To prepare for job interviews - the more comfortable you become meeting with other professionals to discuss your career goals, the less stress you will experience when you attend a job interview
- To get first-hand information and impressions from people who know the ins and outs of your professional area of interest
- To get leads on jobs and/or other potential networking contacts
- To learn about professional organizations and publications which may be helpful to you in your career
- To build confidence in your ability to discuss your career interests, strengths and goals
- To discover whether your strengths and personality will be well-suited to a specific career
- To become a more impressive job candidate by learning what is important to potential employers
- To expand your professional network
- To develop skills that will serve you throughout your professional life
Using LinkedIn for Online Networking
LinkedIn isn't the trendiest social media network out there, but it is saturated with professionals and recruiters, and the Advanced Search feature will allow you to search for Loyola MJ grads who will be great potential networking contacts. If you are new to LinkedIn, be sure to complete your LinkedIn profile before you begin searching for new contacts and reaching out to them. Treat your LinkedIn profile like a more interactive, personal version of your resume. More detailed LinkedIn profiles rank higher in search results. Start by adding a professional photo and your work and educational history.
Your LinkedIn account should be your public face on the internet. While you would be wise to keep your Facebook and other personal accounts private, stringent privacy settings defeat the purpose of LinkedIn. Not only will you be hard to find, but others might assume to worst.
When networking online, the same rules regarding asking for a job apply. Unless you are contacting a recruiter about a specific opportunity, don't ask about job openings. Networking is about building relationships with colleagues who can provide advice and information and who may be able to inform you about future opportunities. Focus your initial inquiries on their career path and the work that they do now.
While LinkedIn is a great place to find and reach out to new networking contacts, a connection becomes much more personal when you put a face with a name. When you contact someone online for the first time, ask for a meeting at a time and place convenient to them (at their office or a nearby coffee shop) or a phone call if distance makes a shared cup of coffee impossible.