For Future Job Seekers, ‘Tis the Season to Network
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
While students look forward to the holidays as a chance to unwind, 'tis the season to "network before they need work," advises Brett Woodard, director of the Career Development Center at Saint Joseph’s University. Students should use this time purposefully, he says, to "plant seeds" for their career search by deepening existing relationships and expanding their network with new contacts.
Look for opportunities to strike up conversations at holiday social functions, says Woodard, and consider whether personal contacts (perhaps a family friend) can bring you as a guest to professional associations or company parties. “Seize the opportunity to introduce yourself and engage others by asking about their career,” he adds. “Share a little about your own career goals, and watch your network multiply before your eyes.” While students shouldn’t expect an immediate internship offer or job lead, they are laying the groundwork and establishing rapport. The next steps? A brief 'thank you' note or email to express how much you enjoyed meeting them, then continuing to nurture these relationships by staying in touch in the new year.
This season of giving is a good time to remember that networking is not a one-way street, Woodard notes. “It can be as simple as taking the lead on referring one person to another, sharing an interesting article, or forwarding a job opportunity. A reciprocal approach will engender generosity as you cultivate a network of professionals who understand your goals, recognize your commitment to your career search, and become excited and invested in supporting you.”