75% of jobs are found through networking with connections. Networking is all about building relationships and sharing information with people you know and establishing connections with. Start with your circle of family, friends, UMN faculty and staff, student groups, UMN alumni (Maroon and Gold Network), and previous organizations you have worked or volunteered at. Networking is not about directly asking for a job or about using people. It is about showing genuine interest in the career field and organization of a person you meet and exchanging information. Networking also shows off valuable transferable skills such as communication, initiative, and motivation. For additional information, check out our Networking Handout
Mango: Connecting Tool
MANGO is a free web app that helps people write common networking emails, prepare for conversations with professionals, and manage follow up tasks confidently. This tool was developed in Minnesota and students have shared with us that it has taken away some of the barriers they felt about reaching out to professionals/alumni via email and on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is the world's largest online professional networking site. It has 300 million+ members and is currently considered the best online networking tool for professionals to develop and engage with their networks, learn about organizations and search for job openings, connect with groups of interest, and have a professional presence online. For additional information, view these LinkedIn Webinars and check out this excellent infographic on building your profile.
Talk to Professionals: Informational Interviews
If you come in contact with a professional through a class visit, event or company tour, simply approach the person and ask two questions about his/her job or organization. This simple interaction often leads the person to tell you about opportunities in their organization. You can also follow up on the interaction through LinkedIn, email, or phone, and request an Informational Interview to learn more about the professional's career path and organization. Wondering how you might introduce yourself in this interaction? Check out our Personal Commercial Handout.
Utilize Social Media
Social media is a powerful way to connect with others that share your interests and to exchange information. 92% of recruiters report that they use social media to find and research job candidates. Check out this article for strategies to utilize social media effectively for networking, job searching, and communicating your personal brand. Also, be sure to engage with our Twitter Lists: collections of organizations and people that recruit our students. Our #UMNCareerChat with the UMN Alumni Assocation, "Leveraging Social Media in Your Job Search" has some great ideas as well!
Tell People About Your Career Plans
Make a list of family, friends, co-workers, acquaintances and faculty members that you know, even if they are not in your field. Contact each person, tell them about your career plans and simply ask if they have any ideas or advice for you on reaching your goal. Many students find job leads from this simple question.
An important part of networking is being willing to help others, and it doesn't have to be job related. This can be as simple as giving a computer tip to a peer who is having problems with a laptop in class. The bottom line is that when you help out other people, they typically will go out of their way to help you too. This can lead to job or internship ideas in the future.