Networking is the informal sharing of information among individuals who are linked by a common interest. Seasoned professionals realize the value of networking when it comes to a job search. It's estimated that as little as 15-20 percent of jobs are advertised which means the remaining 80-85 percent must be tapped through word of mouth! There's a lot of truth to the old adage "It's all about who you know...."
So many times when the topic of networking comes up students reply, "but I don't know anyone in my field." Remember, we are not only concerned about the people we know, but the people who those people know—that's the power of networking! Everyone is a potential networking source including family, friends, current and former employers, roommates, roommates' family and friends, people sitting next to us on an airplane or standing next to us in the grocery store line, etc. Time and time again, we are amazed at the stories of how job leads come about. In fact, when you are job searching, have a copy of your resume with you wherever you go because you never know when you might come across a job lead. If you don't have your resume when you come across a potential networking source, be prepared to ask for their business card so you can follow up.
Typically people are more than willing to help a new college grad or someone wanting to make a career change. Why? Most people genuinely like to help others. Also, most people realize the mutual benefit of networking. When someone helps you, then you become a member of his/her personal network and might be able to help with a job lead in the future.
There are two types of networking: traditional networking (asking people if they know of job leads or people who might know about job leads) and virtual networking (professional networking Web sites).
Example: I graduate from Chico State in May with a major in history. I addition to my studies, I developed my leadership skills through various clubs and organizations on campus. I work very well in a team environment and I love to solve problems. Do you know of an organization that values these qualities or specific job opening that might be a fit for me?
Since the mid-2000s interactive online networking Web sites have revolutionized personal and professional networking. Once you have connected with a contact on a virtual networking site, you should utilize traditional networking techniques to produce job leads. Here are some popular virtual networking sites: