Networking Guide

There are many aspects of networking. During exploration stages, networking can help us gather information about the types of positions and organizations you are seeking. Networking can also lead to exciting opportunities. This guide will define networking and offer strategies so that you can be informed and prepared. 

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What is Networking? 

Networking can be explained in a variety of ways. Below you will find multiple definitions and you may relate to one more than the others. 

  • “The exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically: the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business.” – Merriam Webster 
  • Career networking is the systematic development and cultivation of informal interpersonal contacts and relationships to: 
  • Compile information 
  • Gain as much exposure as possible in the job market 
  • Gather more names and referrals 
  • Assist others in doing the above 
  • To interact or engage in informal communication with others for mutual assistance or support; an interconnected system of things or people. 
  • Networking is the cultivation of productive relationships; the exchange of information or services among individuals having a common interest.  

Benefits of Networking 

Networking is important because… 

  • You can tap into the informal job market​ 
  • Who you know can often be more important than what you know​ 
  • Your network can help advance your career even when you have a job 


Networking is important because… 

  • You can tap into the informal job market​ 
  • Who you know can often be more important than what you know​ 
  • Your network can help advance your career even when you have a job 

The informal job market consists of jobs that cannot be seen, are not advertised, and are not made known to the public in a formal way. In fact, most employers prefer referrals from employees or others since they know these are more reliable. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 80% of jobs are found by candidates or filled by employers through networking. Why is this the case? It saves employers time and money when they fill positions based on recommendations from colleagues or friends.  

How can you use networking? It can be used to seek or give advice, learn more about a profession, industry, or company, meet like-minded individuals, learn of new opportunities and to gain referrals. One of the main strategies for building connections is to maintain an openness and awareness of people you encounter in your daily activities including professors, co-workers, peers, and family members.   


When to Network and How to Identify Professionals

  • Build your network at the beginning of your college career​ 
  • Meet as many people as you can​ 
  • Utilize your academic breaks​ 
  • Catch up with past colleagues during the holidays​ 
  • Part-time work or internships during the summer and winter ​ 
  • Take every opportunity possible 


  1. Begin by networking with people you know. Examples may include:
  • parents  
  • relatives  
  • friends  
  • neighbors  
  • members of professional organizations 
  • alumni  
  • teachers/professors  
  • present and former co-workers 
  • previous supervisors 
  • coaches 
  • mentors 
  • service club members 
  • social group members 
  • religious/spiritual institution members 


Places to find professionals to network with online: 

Make an appointment with a career counselor for assistance on using these tools! 

Making a Networking plan & What to Bring

Steps to take: 

  • Preparation​ 
  • Identify what you want to learn about 
  • Know about yourself​ 
  • Have a Target​ 
  • Identify what types of individuals you want in your network​ 
  • Locate opportunities to expand your network​ 
  • Career Center networking programs 
  • Career Fairs 
  • On-campus networking opportunities 
  • LinkedIn Groups 
  • Professional organization meetings​ 
  • Chamber of Commerce​ 
  • Social gatherings 
  • Professionalism​ 
  • Dress appropriately 
  • Be on time 
  • Use a firm handshake and smile​ 
  • Represent yourself strongly​ using your Elevator Pitch (see section below) 
  • Ask for advice, not a job​ 
  • Send a thank-you email afterwards 
  • Have Patience​ 
  • Instant results are unlikely​ 
  • Be persistent and polite​ 
  • Avoid getting discouraged  
  • Take a break if you get overwhelmed 


Materials to Bring: 

  • Copies of your resume  
  • The Career Center offers a maximum of 10 free resume prints on professional paper when you visit the Career Center in-person  
  • Business Cards  
  • The Career Center offers 30 business cards for $3. Please allow one week for completion of your order  
  • Padfolio or Pad of Paper  
  • The Career Center lends padfolio on a first-come-first-serve basis  
  • List of references   
  • Pen (at least two)  
  • Questions  
  • Good handshake, smile, and a positive attitude   

Networking Methods 

Networking is a necessary tool to access the informal job market. There are multiple ways to begin your networking process.   


Networking In-Person:   

This type of networking is taking place all the time, everywhere you go! Each person you meet presents an opportunity to build a relationship and learn more. A more formal type of in-person networking might include career fairs, employer information sessions, networking events, conferences, professional association meetings, and informational interviews.  


Online Networking:   

Online networking offers access to individuals whose path you might never actually cross in real life. Utilize sites like LinkedIn, Handshake, and other social media to locate and initiate connections with people within your field(s) of interest. Typically, these websites will provide you with access to a professional’s email for you to set up an informational interview (see below), or just introduce yourself. Follow up on online conversations with in-person meetings, if possible. If that is not possible due to geographical constraints, try to schedule a phone call or Skype/Teams/Zoom call.  


Informational Interviews:  

An informational interview is a conversation in which the job seeker requests a conversation with someone whose professional role they are interested in learning about—perhaps someone who works at a company or position of interest. As the job seeker is initiating contact with the professional, it is important to be prepared with thoughtful questions. A 30-minute conversation is an appropriate length of time to request for an informational interview, which you might initiate via email, LinkedIn message, or phone.  


A request for an informational interview might sound like this:  

Dear Dr. Last Name,  

I am writing in the hopes of speaking with you to learn more about your career in psychiatry. As a sophomore Biomedical Sciences major at Marquette University, I am in the process of researching potential career paths I may pursue after graduation. I see from your LinkedIn profile that you also studied biomedical sciences during your undergraduate career at Marquette, and I am interested to hear how you made the decision to pursue medical school and eventually the field of psychiatry. Please let me know if you would be available for a 30-minute conversation. Thank you for your time and consideration, and I look forward to speaking with you soon. If you have any questions about me or my request, do let me know.  


First Name Last Name 


You should come prepared with thoughtful questions so that your informational interview will be meaningful for both you and the person you are interviewing. If you do some research before your informational interview, the conversation will be more productive for both parties. Try to personalize the questions you ask based on the person you are interviewing so that they feel you have taken the opportunity seriously. Remember, you are trying to make a positive first impression with someone who might be helpful to you in your future career.  


Elevator Pitch:  

An elevator pitch is a very concise introduction of oneself and may vary depending on the situation and type of professional. This pitch will help you initiate an intelligent and effective conversation with new professional contacts.   


There are three pieces to an elevator pitch:  

  1. Where are you now? (degree, program, year in college)  
  1. Where have you been? (career-related experience, leadership experience, part-time work experience)  
  1. Where are you going? (future goals)  


If you are at a career fair, you may add:  

  • What you know about the organization which shows your interest in their company specifically  
  • A question to start the conversation  



“Hello, my name is Alex. I am currently a Sophomore at Marquette University, and will be graduating in May of 20XX with my Bachelor of Arts Degree in Corporate Communication. As a student I have had the chance to gain leadership and organizational skills through my involvement as the Vice-President of the College of Communication Student Council. In addition, I have worked for two years as a server at the Annex, allowing me to gain valuable customer service experience. I am seeking an internship in the field of public relations next summer. Would you be able to share with me any opportunities within your organization that might fit with my skills and experience?”  

Sample Questions to Get You Started 

Below is a list of sample questions you can ask during a networking opportunity such as an informational interview, networking event, career fair, or other appropriate situations. The questions you ask may change depending on the situation and type of professional.  


Position Focused  

  • What are your current openings?  
  • What skills are you looking for in a desired candidate?  
  • What are the major challenges of the position?  
  • Are there advancement opportunities?  
  • What does a typical day look like? 
  • What makes a great candidate as opposed to a good one? 


Field Focused  

  • Is there a demand for people in this field?  
  • What is the typical career/educational path to begin working in this field?  
  • What experiences are valued for this field?  
  • In your current position, what do you do in a typical day?  
  • What is the culture of this field? 
  • How do people advance in this field? 
  • What are some hot topics in this field? 


Graduate Program Focused  

  • What makes a strong application and desired candidate?  
  • How does your program differ from others?  
  • What are some challenges new graduate students face? 


Post-Grad Service Focused  

  • What type of training is provided?  
  • What do people typically do after they finish? 
  • What has been your biggest accomplishment during your experience? 


Recruiter Focused (may be used at a career fair) 

  • Are there any specific courses a student might take that would be beneficial in this field?  
  • What types of training do companies give to a person entering this field?  
  • What aspects of a career in this field do you consider particularly good? Particularly bad?  


Advice/Expand Network Focused  

  • What is the best way to obtain a position which will start me in this field?  
  • Do you have information on job specifications and descriptions which I may have?  
  • What special advice would you give a young professional entering this field?  
  • What would you recommend I be doing now?  
  • Do you have any recommendations of who I could contact next?