Networking is an important professional skill and a proactive job and internship search strategy, which may include 1) communicating with people you already know and 2) reaching out to contacts with whom you seek to build relationships. Both kinds of contacts and relationships are important during a job search and throughout your career.
When you network with people, you have the opportunity to learn about them and their areas of interest. In turn, when you share your goals and interests, they may share their networking resources – industry knowledge and professional contacts – with you. This broader sharing is why it is important to ask about more than just job openings.
Networking with alumni
Campus contacts: Consider on-campus contacts such as faculty, staff, club advisers, visiting speakers and classmates.
LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a professional networking website with more than 100 million members. LinkedIn has a structure similar to Facebook (with friend/connection and group relationships), but LinkedIn content is 100-percent professional.
LinkedIn’s “advanced search” option lets you search within your contacts, your contacts’ contacts and groups for individuals who work in particular roles or for specific companies, as well as other search criteria.
LinkedIn Marquette Alumni Group: Join the Marquette Alumni Group to network with 10,000+ alumni. This group is open to alumni and students with sophomore standing or above. By joining groups like this one, you will have access to group members’ e-mail addresses.
College of Business Administration networking events
- CIRCLES – Business networking programs hosted across the country
- BizNet – Typically held in October
- Java & Jobs – Typically held in February
- Marketing networking event – Typically held in February
- A contact you know well (faculty member, family member, neighbor, club advisor, etc.)
You never know who your contacts may know. Share your goals – position type, industry, employers of interest – with these individuals so that they can best help you. Sample questions could include:
- I am targeting logistics and transportation roles in my internship search. Do you know people who work in these types of roles or for companies that would have a logistics department?
- I am targeting retailers in my job search, so I am very interested in learning more about Kohl’s, Menards, Target, Bon Ton Stores and Walgreens. Do you have relationships with people at any of these companies? Are there other retail organizations that you would encourage me to consider in my search?
- As you consider my job search goal, do you have additional suggestions for strategies or networks I should consider for my search?
- A company-specific contact
In addition to learning about a specific industry, talking with a company-specific contact can be a great way to learn about the organization’s culture, hiring practices and job/internship search suggestions. If you are networking with the goal of targeting a specific company, keep the conversation focused on experiences and practices related to that company.
- A contact you received through a referral or found through Marquette networks
If you find contacts through the Marquette Alumni Association LinkedIn group or through a recommendation from someone you already know, conversations with those individuals can still be productive; however, your initial outreach will require more introductory detail. Explain where you found this contact’s information and then tell them a little about your background (year in school, major, etc.), your career goals and what you hope to gain from talking with them. Consider the sample e-mails below.
To learn about a career field:
Dear Mr. Smith:
Dr. Professor at Marquette University recommended that I contact you to learn more about careers in banking and working at ABC Bank. I am a junior studying finance and interested in learning more about career paths within banking. I would appreciate 20-30 minutes of your time to talk about your career path and experience with ABC Bank. I would also appreciate any suggestions you could share as I look for a summer internship.
If there is a time that works for you in the upcoming weeks, I would be happy to call you or meet you at the ABC Bank Milwaukee branch. I will look forward to hearing from you and will contact you next week to follow up.
Thank you in advance for your help.
To learn about a company:
Dear Ms. Smith:
My name is Jane Student and I am a senior studying information technology and marketing at Marquette University. I found your profile on the Marquette Alumni Association LinkedIn group and I’m reaching out to you based on your experience at GE Healthcare. GE is a company that I am interested in targeting in my job search and I would appreciate the opportunity to talk with you about your experiences. I am specifically interested in learning more about the company culture and your experience with the GE Healthcare Information Management Leadership Program. I would also appreciate any suggestions you could share as I apply for positions with GE Healthcare.
If there is a time that works for you in the upcoming weeks, I would be happy to call you or meet you in person to discuss your experiences and these questions. I will look forward to hearing from you and will contact you next week to follow-up.
Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Share your thanks
Networking is a give-and-take relationship. After a networking conversation, give back to the relationship by sharing your appreciation and updates. This follow-up is an important professional courtesy and helps strengthen relationships.
Follow-up should always include a thank you e-mail or letter. In addition, consider the ideas below as ways to stay in touch with your networking contacts:
- Follow up about your job/internship search progress. Did you meet with a professional your networking contact recommended or take other steps she or he advised?
- Connect through LinkedIn. As a professional networking site, LinkedIn provides an excellent format for staying in touch and keeping apprised of your contacts’ updates. Remember to personalize your invitation message to reference your conversation or relationship.
- Share articles or news related to the area of your contact’s work or topics you discussed. This approach could also be appropriate if you see that your contact or your contact’s organization was in the news or sponsored a community event.
- Provide your contact with a copy of your resume. Be open to feedback. Reassure networking contacts that they may share your resume if they come across an opportunity that they think would be appropriate for you.
- Share a helpful website, which has either personal or professional relevance.
- Introduce or refer someone from your network to your contact, or introduce or refer your contact to someone from your network.
- Personal messages are acceptable too, especially for friends and family. Birthday messages or holiday greetings referencing your appreciation for their help or providing an update can be nice reminders of your relationship and job/internship search.
The main idea to remember is that you are cultivating and maintaining a relationship. Staying in touch helps a networking relationship feel like a shared effort between you and your contacts, rather than a one-time request for help. If you have questions about appropriate follow-up, please contact the Business Career Center.