Networking is a great way to gain information and advice about your chosen career field, learn about potential opportunities, inform people about your interests and create opportunities for yourself. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that 80% of jobs are now found through networking. The best jobs often go to people who network and sometimes, jobs are created for those people.
Basic networks are broken down into four categories:
It’s possible that individuals in your network may fall into multiple categories. Try to develop a blend of people who you can turn to for advice, connections, ideas and recommendations. Having problems thinking of where to start? Consider these groups:
Each represents a potential source for networking. Talk to those you know and tell them about your goals. They may be able to introduce you to someone new who can help.
Not sure what to say or how to prepare for a networking event? Check out our Electronic Networking Guide for some pointers.
Networking happens everywhere and takes many shapes and forms. How you network is largely a personal decision based on your level of comfort.
LinkedIn is a valuable tool for developing new professional connections and expanding your network. Understanding how to network properly will help you develop a strategy for making new connections and building your network.
Creating a good profile provides a foundation for getting the most out of LinkedIn. Additionally, LinkedIn groups are an excellent way to network and learn more about a specific industry. Nearly every industry has one, if not several, groups associated with it. LinkedIn Higher Education offers fantastic tools to help you make the most of this amazing resource.
Nearly every industry or job function has a related professional association. Professional associations are an extremely underutilized source of networking. If you aren’t a member of a professional organization, consider joining one. There are hundreds of them with chapters around the country. Attend meetings, comment on articles posted on the organization’s website, or take advantage of established networking programs.
Another great way to start building connections and leadership skills is through student organizations related to your field of interest. Having significant involvement and experiences in a few organizations is preferred over shallow experiences in a multitude of organizations. Explore all of the registered student organizations at VCU on RamsConnect to find a match.
Good mentors can make a huge difference in your professional success. Mentors have the knowledge and experience to help you develop and advance your career and can provide advice and guidance when you need it most. Mentors are often a boss, a professor or someone you know through a professional organization. However, the right mentor may be someone you have not yet met. Keep in mind that your mentors don’t need to be the most senior people you can find, they just need to have the ability and desire to help you succeed.
Consider these factors when searching for a mentor:
VCU Link is the university's online community for connecting students, alumni and friends of the university for career advice, industry contacts and meaningful professional relationships.