Networking: Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How

What is Networking?

The term ‘networking’ describes a variety of actions taken to establish and develop professional relationships and to exchange information about particular positions, organizations, or industries. Networking can happen in formal settings, such as during our Hoyas for Others event, or in informal settings, such as on an airplane. When done well, networking is not schmoozing, asking people to find you a job, or ‘using’ people exclusively for your own benefit. It’s ideally a two-way street, in which both participants learn new things and connect for short-term learning and long-term career advancement goals.

Why is Networking Important?

Networking is research through conversation. A large percentage of job vacancies are never posted for the general public. By connecting with people within your desired industry, you can learn about positions that have not yet been made public and put yourself ahead of other job-seekers.

As you seek to learn about careers, networking can provide insights beyond what you can find online resources, salary calculators, or job descriptions. Even after you’ve found an internship or job, networking will continue to serve you well as you consult with others for help with projects, attend conferences, or seek opportunities for advancement.

Who should be a part of my network?

Anyone. Make a list of every person you know (friends, relatives, former co-workers, neighbors, and past acquaintances). It is important to be exhaustive in your brainstorming; you never know what insights, previous experiences, or connections a cousin or professor may have. The following categories may help you get started:

  • Friends and family
  • Faculty and teachers
  • Classmates and alumni
  • Associations and conferences
  • Facebook, LinkedIn, email listservs
  • Former co-workers and supervisors

Where should I network?

Anywhere
You might meet someone at Yates, in your neighborhood or dorm, on the Metro, at a faith-based event, or in a variety of other places. Practice introducing yourself and asking questions so that you’ll feel comfortable as you engage a new acquaintance in a conversation about his or her experiences.

Organized Events
The Cawley Career Education Center offers a variety of events and programs to facilitate networking. Employer information sessions, industry programming, career fairs, our alumni networking events, and our annual Careers For the Common Good event are just a few of the ways we facilitate connections with employers and alumni.

Georgetown Alumni
Georgetown has searchable alumni databases to facilitate one on one conversations.

  • Hoya Gateway provides customized connections for current students to alumni who are eager to share career insights, review resumes, and practice for interviews.
  • Georgetown’s Alumni Career Network is a database for current students and alumni. It is searchable by industry, geographic location, and more.
  • Georgetown Alumni Clubs. To find connections abroad, check out Georgetown’s alumni clubs to see if an alumni club exists for the country in which you’re interested.

LinkedIn
Students are often surprised by the many ways they can use this site. Visit LinkedIn’s student page for an introduction.

  • Setting up a profile is the first step. Connect with ‘Jane Hoya’ to see an example of a student profile. Joining groups related to Georgetown and professional organizations can generate leads and give you access to people with similar interests. Join the Georgetown University Alumni Group and search for alums on Georgetown University’s page. Quality is more important than quantity; make sure you are making meaningful connections and joining groups of interest to you.
  • LinkedIn’s companies page contains rich information about organizations based on LinkedIn profiles. You can also follow companies that interest you to stay in the loop with regards to jobs and company announcements.
  • Jobs are posted on LinkedIn as well. At the bottom of students.linkedin.com, click ‘See all the student jobs’ to begin exploring internships and entry-level positions. To learn more about what LinkedIn can do for you as a student, visit our center for a drop-in, or attend one of our LinkedIn workshops.

How do I make contact?

Before you contact anyone for networking purposes, make sure that your resume is updated. You’ll use it to give your contacts a sense of your background before meeting them, or leave it behind as a reminder of your skills and experience. Once you have established a list of people to contact, set up an organizational system to help you keep track of correspondence. Students often use a spreadsheet to organize information. Some pieces of information you might want to track in such a spreadsheet:

  • Name of the person you’ve been in contact with
  • Organization
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • How you found the contact
  • First contact
  • Heard back
  • Meeting date
  • Thank you note?

How do I introduce myself? The Personal Pitch

Before you attend a conference, career fair or organized networking event, you can prepare by drafting and practicing a personal pitch. A personal pitch concisely describes your relevant qualifications, accomplishments, and goals as you move forward. Preparing a personal pitch helps you control your first impression, convey confidence, and articulate what you’re looking for. An example might be as follows:

“Hello, Dr. Smith. I attended your session this morning and appreciated your insights regarding BCM theory. My name is Jack Walter; as a sophomore at Georgetown University, I have been taking coursework in biology and neuroscience as well as working in a lab at the Georgetown Medical Center. I plan to matriculate directly into a master’s program so that I can participate in neural network research. I am interested in your work at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. May I email you next week to ask some questions about your research there and how I can position myself for work like yours?”

When should I start networking?

These guidelines, based on Katherine Hansen’s A Foot in the Door, can help you during your college years and beyond.

First year
It’s never too early to get to know your professors and advisor. Extracurricular activities can connect with students who share your interests. If you are working, make an effort to connect with your boss or supervisor.

Sophomore year
In addition to the above, work with a career counselor or industry advisor to identify industries of interest and conduct Informational Interviews with people working in those fields. Attend one of our career fairs or a few employer information sessions to learn and practice talking with employers. Keep an eye out for our industry programming, which offers educational/networking opportunities in fields like science, marketing, or nonprofit.

Junior year
In addition to the above, make sure that your resume and LinkedIn profile are up to date. Talk with guest speakers at Georgetown to ask questions about your interests. As you gain exposure to different fields through internships or volunteering, ask contacts to recommend similar organizations or colleagues for continued research.

Senior year
If you have a sense of where you’ll live after graduation, research and contact any relevant professional organizations, companies, and alumni or other contacts. Pace yourself: set concrete goals around your networking efforts. Revisit connections you’ve made during college to ask for industry advice, additional contacts, or other ideas.

Beyond Georgetown
Make a list of contacts and set goals for initiating discussions with them. Attend relevant conferences, association meetings, networking events, and alumni events. Keep in touch with the contacts you made in college – update them when you obtain a new position or when you encounter relevant questions. LinkedIn can help you to manage this.

Keeping in Touch

Keeping in touch can take several forms. If you are searching for a job, you might send your contacts periodic updates on your process. You might email follow-up questions. Look for contacts at conferences or other events and use LinkedIn to stay in touch.

Write thank you notes.
If someone has answered your questions, given you a lead, reviewed your resume, or helped you in some way, acknowledge their efforts by writing an email or hand-written note that day.

Give others something they need.
Forward an article related to a professor’s work or a conversation you had. Offer to connect your internship supervisor with resources at Georgetown.

Help others succeed.
As a person for others, you can be a resource for classmates as they begin their own searches. Hoya Gateway and the Alumni Career Network are great ways for you to become a resource for others.