Professional networking is a rich source of internship and job leads. The more people you speak with, the more your name will spread, and the more likely word will echo back about potential opportunities. Some career experts peg the number of jobs found through networking at 70 to 90 percent.
In short, networking is talking to people you know, and those you meet, about your career goals and the types of opportunities you’re interested in. It’s not the place to ask for a position, but rather to seek advice, feedback, and referrals (which hopefully will lead to a job or internship interview).
Don’t be shy about asking for help. People generally like helping others. Begin building your network by tapping those you already feel comfortable with: friends, relatives, professors, coaches, advisors, internship supervisors, and former employers, as well as BU alumni.
Before you reach out, determine your goals: are you seeking advice, an informational interview, feedback? If you’re connecting by phone, be enthusiastic and clearly identify yourself. No matter how you initiate contact—phone, email, or letter—make sure to adopt a professional manner. Name the person who referred you or how you found them. Be specific about why you’re reaching out, and how they can help. Before parting, always ask if you can connect on LinkedIn and for any additional contacts.
Expand your network by joining professional associations (many have student rates).
You can also make connections with employers by attending campus recruiting events such as employer information sessions or career expos. Check for upcoming events at Handshake.
But just because the conversation is over, doesn’t mean you’re done. You want to sustain a positive impression, so follow-up is key. Always make sure to send a formal thank-you note or email. Reference something that was discussed—a suggestion or piece of advice they gave. Consider enclosing your resume with the request that they might pass it along if they hear of any openings. If they agree to connect on LinkedIn, be sure to send a request within a day or two.
The Career Advisory Network (CAN), operated and maintained by the BU Alumni Association, gives you the chance to contact successful alums who have volunteered to speak to students about their careers. Please keep in mind this is strictly an informational and networking opportunity, not a green light to ask for an internship or work.