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Networking 101

Have you heard the old saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know?” It’s as true as ever. Developing and continuously expanding your professional network is a crucial aspect of exploring, launching and advancing your career.

Tips for Successful Networking

Start with warm connections: It can be more comfortable and fruitful to first approach those with whom you have an existing relationship – faculty, classmates, former supervisors, family friends, and neighbors, for example. As part of your conversations, ask who else they might recommend you talk to. Personal introductions are among the best ways to grow your network!

Build rapport: Don’t start by asking for a referral. Instead, take time to build a relationship with the contact first. They’ll need to get to know you as a professional before they feel comfortable recommending you to others.

Frame it as an opportunity to learn: As you build rapport, relish in the opportunity to gain insight into the profession, field, and industry that your contact has established him or herself in. Conducting an “informational interview” is a great way to get insider information about your contact’s career and organization, and gather recommendations for those who wish to follow a similar path.

Follow up the right way: Following your initial conversation, send an email to thank your contact and connect with them on LinkedIn. Should you come across an article or other resource that might be of interest based on your previous conversations, share it by email.

How to start networking

  • Schedule informational interviews - Informational interviews can be an incredibly productive, no-pressure way to learn about a field, explore career paths and build your network of contacts.
  • Join professional organizations - Virtually every field has one or more professional associations formed to facilitate networking, support knowledge sharing and advance industry interests.
  • Rev up your social media - Social media is another venue for building your brand and professional network. Join industry conversations, develop industry contacts, connect with employers and get the word out about your job search.

Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK)

DePaul created the Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) Network to help students connect with university alumni for career advice and insight. Here, you can search for and connect with alumni, set up conversations with alumni mentors, join discussion forums, and participate in group chats.

Join the ASK Network

LinkedIn

With over 600 million users across the globe, LinkedIn is the go-to resource for professional networking. Get started with this profile checklist and How to Network on LinkedIn guide.

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From the Career Library: Networking Resources