Networking is a valuable way to both gain useful information that’ll assist you in applying for a role and making connections that might create new opportunities for you. 

You can think of networking as mini, somewhat informal interviews. Generally speaking, you’ll be meeting with individuals in the industry you’re working in (or would like to enter), and you never know where a connection will lead (or when you might unexpectedly reconnect with someone in the future!)

The Three Ps of Networking

PREPARE: Do what you need to do to get ready. If you’re reaching out to someone for the first time who doesn’t know who you are, you’ll need to be clear on how you’ll introduce yourself and the most important information to share in a short amount of time.

    • To prepare for a telephone call, write a script and practice it. Also prepare yourself for leaving a message if the person doesn’t pick up or isn’t available.
    • To prepare for a face-to-face meeting, you’ll do a lot of the same things you would for a phone call.
    • If you’re meeting with someone to get information about the work they do or a particular company, visit the company’s website (if they have one) to learn more about it ahead of time so you’re not caught off guard.

PRACTICE: Practice what you want to say over and over and over. The more you hear yourself say it, the easier it will be, and the more confident you will feel.

    • Do you ever think about smiling when you’re on the telephone? Believe it or not, people can hear that confidence in your voice and can determine friendliness from the tone of your voice. Along the same lines, fear can be heard over the phone, too. Concentrate on speaking clearly, be calm, and breathe!
    • Prepare for one-to-one meetings by practicing with a friend, parent, or someone you know and trust. Ask them to role play with you – they could pretend to be the person you are going to meet with and you could practice asking the questions you have prepared.

PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER: Part of feeling confident in a meeting is feeling good about yourself. If you feel good about your appearance, you tend to give your confidence a big boost!

    • Good grooming isn’t just for dogs. Dress the way you think the other person will be dressing. If you were networking with your uncle at a family BBQ, shorts and flip-flops might be just fine. But if you’re meeting with someone in a professional setting, try to dress to suit the occasion.
    • It’s always a good idea to take a resume with you, even if you’re not meeting with someone for a job. It’s a good way to leave someone with a reminder of your skills, talents, and experiences.
    • Also, ask the person you’re meeting with to suggest additional people you could contact to learn more.

Which one of the 3 Ps would be the most difficult for you? Which would be the easiest? Which two tips will you work on or use when you start networking?      

Informational Interviews

You need to be prepared with questions to ask in your networking meeting. Here are some options that’ll help you gather more information and make a meaningful connection.

  1. How did you get into this field of work?
  2. What do you like best about your work?
  3. What do you like the least?
  4. What is a typical day or week like for someone in your occupation?
  5. What kind of skills, education, and/or training would I need to get into this area?
  6. What personal qualities are necessary for someone in this occupation?
  7. What is a typical entry-level salary? (Do NOT ask how much the person you are (interviewing earns!)
  8. Do you know someone else doing this kind of work that I could talk to for my research?


Social Media & Networking

Social media can be a great way to network. It can provide you with the ability to view mutual friends or see potential connections – this can be beneficial to finding a new job.

  1. Be careful – nothing is private. Don’t post anything on your site or your “friends” sites that you wouldn’t want a prospective employer to see. Derogatory comments, revealing or risqué photos, foul language, and lewd jokes will all be viewed as a reflection of your character.
  2. Be discreet. If your network offers the option, consider setting your profile to “private,” so that it is viewable only by friends of your choosing. And since you can’t control what other people say on your site, you may want to use the “block comments feature. Remember, everything on the Internet is archived, and there is no eraser!
  3. Be prepared. Check your profile regularly to see what comments have been posted. Use a search engine to look for online records of yourself to see what is out there about you.


Utilize and Maximize Your Network 

Make a list of all friends, acquaintances, and colleagues. This is a brainstorming activity – do not rule anyone out! Connections can be provided from unlikely sources. Talk to the people on the list. Find out where they work and what companies they think highly of. Do they know who is hiring, or what businesses are expanding? Fill in the chart below. 

Refer back to the informational Interview section. Example questions. Are there any job openings at your place of employment? Where do you work? What is your job like?

Please refer to your Workbook for the Table of People, Names, and Questions to ask as seen below to write down your answers.

People Names Questions to Ask
Spouse, partner
Brothers and sisters
Uncles and aunts
Past employers