Networking Successfully: How To's

  • Be able to describe to others what kind of work you're targeting and in what kind of environment.
  • Ask for information, advice and suggestions regarding the kind of work or industries you're targeting and the ways you should go about your job search. Do not ask for a job or ask directly about openings.
  • Request at least two more names and contact information from each person you talk with.
  • Set weekly goals for the number of people you plan to contact; be accountable.
  • Have the following tools ready: 1) a resume targeted to the sort of work you want to do or a quick summary of what you've done if you're still investigating possible work targets; 2) business cards with your name, contact information and an indication of your targeted job title(s) or industry(ies); 3) Your 10- to 40-second speech that describes your typical work targets, what experience you bring to the workplace, your accomplishments and/or education and what you're requesting from whomever you contact, such as contact names or specific information. Note: If you plan to attend job clubs or job-search support groups, you'll also need a handbill.
  • In a database, Excel file or on paper, record all referred contact names, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, job titles, employer names and notes that you have.
  • Add new contacts to a networking e-mail distribution list. When you make a career move, inform people by sending an e-mail to people on your distribution list; thank them again and offer your work-related assistance to them and their families, as well as to their friends. As you move forward this is your professional network, so annually e-mail the people on this list to talk about your career progress, to ask about theirs and to offer help if needed. Some of these contacts may become customers, clients, vendors, future mentors and continual friends seeking advice that goes both ways.
  • Remember to thank the people who assisted you with gathering contacts and information during your job search, and also thank the folks who offered helpful suggestions along the way. You can do this via a phone call, a personal note, a business letter or e-mail.

Network in Three Main Ways
All-day Networking: Network all day with everyone you see or talk to throughout your normal daily activities. As you do this, explain to people that you are looking for contact names for industry information and job-search advice.

  • Do this with discretion or not at all if you already have a job and don't want a current employer to know about your networking ambitions.
  • Distribute a large number of your business cards, asking anyone you encounter (except at work) to connect you to people who can offer you the specific kinds of information you need. Then proceed to “Targeted Networking” (seen below) to attain information from those people.

Targeted Networking: Select people who are doing the kind of work you want to do, who are working for an organization you'd like to be a part of and who can get you to the previously mentioned “target people.” Find these target people through the Colorado Theological Seminary Alumni Association's Online Directory or by brainstorming with friends or family members.

  • Contact your targeted people, preferably by phone, to set up a 30-minute in-person or phone appointment at their workplace or wherever it's convenient.
  • During this appointment, ask questions related to information about the person's work or company, and inquire about suggestions on how to conduct your job search. Do not ask about specific openings at this point. The emphasis is on gathering information.
  • Leave your resume behind.
  • Ask for two additional contact names and phone numbers before leaving.
  • After the appointment, send your contact a thank-you note via a hand-written note, a business letter or e-mail.
  • Record the contact information of the person you visited with and the additional contacts you were given. Keep notes from the networking interview.

Group Networking: Talk with people at meetings, conferences, events and gatherings that are related to your occupation or industry. Contacts you've acquired through career networking or at social events will work, too. Try to further your targeted network list and gain moral support from those you talk with.

Typical situations for group networking include:

  • Networking events such as those sponsored by The Seminary Club, your undergraduate or graduate college or private groups including social clubs, industry and occupational groups.
  • Face-to-face professional and trade association meetings such as regional and national conferences and local breakfast, lunch, dinner or after-work group meetings.
  • Job clubs and job-search support groups, often meeting at local churches or community centers. (Warning! Some of these groups may just be unhelpful gripe sessions, so avoid such meetings if you can.)

How to group network:

  • Recognize that attendees may be in your targeted network or may be able to connect you to others in your targeted network. Sometimes they may know of an opening and offer to pass on your resume to the person who's hiring (the best option) or to the human resource office.
  • Use your 30-second sound byte/elevator speech to present a quick summary of what you have to offer a potential employer. Use this when you have the opportunity to introduce yourself to a group, or when you're asked, “How are things going?”, “What do you do?”, “What kind of job are you looking for?”
  • Inform the networking group that you're conducting a job search and would appreciate information from folks in specific kinds of work roles. Be able to name occupations, job titles and industries.
  • Offer your business card at a meeting, a resume at an event or a handbill at a job-search support group.
  • Thank those who helped you connect with more people in your target network or who said they'd pass on your resume to the hiring decision-maker. Do this via e-mail, a personal note, a business letter, voicemail or a phone call, depending on your preference. Add to your records your new contacts, and also add the names and contact information of the people who referred you to those new contacts. 

Samples and Suggestions for Networking Assistance (PDFs)

  1. Sample Networking Questions
  2. Networking Business Cards
  3. Sound Bytes
  4. Handbill
  5. Job-search Networking Tracking Form
  6. CTS Alumni Directory
  7. Identifying Networking Contacts
  8. Networking Correspondence
  9. Establishing My Network

Ongoing Networking for Your Professional Development
Networking is not just for information or support in a job search. It's also an interactive, ongoing process that can vastly help you throughout your career. Through solid networking, you can potentially gain customers, vendors and competitors within your work "playing field." Or perhaps the people already in your network will one day become your customers, vendors and competitors. Some of your network members may become trusted colleagues who you'll rely on for input when trying to solve a business problem. And, conversely, you may become their mentor or relied-upon colleague at some point.

See the Networking as Professional Development (PDF) topic for further information. 

Online Resources

  • Alumni Association Events - Clubs, College and Department Associations – Events sponsored by, or advertised by, The Seminary Club. The “Calendar” section shows upcoming events for each campus.
  • Execunet – The premier executive network and membership organization for professionals making $75,000 or more.
  • Scholarly Societies Project – “Subjects” section offers access to over 800 societies and professional associations.

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