Getting to Know You ...
n (1966) 1: the exchange of information
or services among individuals, groups or institutions.
When some of
us were young, family members modeled networking for us by introducing
us to their friends in hopes of helping us land our first jobs
as teenagers. Dad took it a step further when he referred us
to someone that we had to meet, greet and talk to by ourselves.
Along the way, we met other people. Over time, we developed
a small, but dependable network of contacts.
Times have changed
quite a bit in the past 10-20 years. Our prevalent use of email
and increasingly mobile society have changed the once-friendly
art form of networking into something that doesn’t feel as comfortable
— or at times as friendly. Many of today’s entry-level
and experienced workers are ill prepared to handle the face-to-face
challenges associated with traditional networking. Why? Because
they simply have not had the advantage of having family and
friends teach them the dynamics of this critical skill.
a bit of finesse, a fair amount of discretion, and basic manners.
It’s something you learn, similar to the way you learned table
manners as a youngster: you have to get out there and practice!
Get used to the different place settings. Know which fork to
use and when. And figure out how to keep the food out of your
lap. Like table manners, you also have to practice networking
regularly as well, in order for it to work to your advantage.
on the Job
To get to know
key people in your company, begin with your immediate work group.
Choose associates you don’t interact with daily, but who are
working on projects that interest you. Contact them or stop
them in the hall and ask for a short, informal meeting. Let
them know what you want to find out and why. For example, you
might want to find out more about a project they are working
on. Most people are happy to share information about a project,
as long as it’s not classified.
Before the meeting,
put together a list of questions, so you'll leave the meeting
with the information you're seeking. During the meeting, share
what you know about the company, or about other projects that
might interest your contacts. This exchange will make you an
active participant and contributor to the conversation. You
might also want to know:
- How they
got into their position initially, and what changes have taken
place in the past 10 years — in their position, and in
- What specific
skills have been best for the position
- How they
keep their skills fresh
- What they
have found to be effective resources during their career
- What memberships
have proven to be helpful
- Who else
would be good sources of information
for a Job
If you are networking
as part of an active job search, you’ll need to do a bit more
- Target the
businesses or industries that hire people with your skills.
- Get the names,
phone numbers and addresses of people who work for companies
that interest you. These might be engineers, human resource
managers, department managers or others.
- Seek assistance
from family, friends, former co-workers, current co-workers,
religious community members, friends’ family members, and
people. And every time you tell someone you are looking for
a job, give that person your resume. Distribute it freely and
distribute it often; the more people who see it, the better
chance you will have for landing the job you want.
Networking Process Work for You
Whether on the
job or on the hunt for one, dive into the networking process.
Schedule meetings, call people, send email, or send snail mail.
Be persistent and be dedicated to the process. Follow up conversations
and meetings with thank you notes or other correspondence.
a time-consuming process, to be sure. But it yields incredible
results on a number of fronts. You’ll establish new contacts,
build friendships and business partnerships, and gain access
to job opportunities you’ll never find in the classified ads
section of the newspaper.
Experience Coordinator at the University of Arizona's College
of Engineering in Tucson.