Congratulations! You’ve graduated or earned that precious new degree. Now, how do you find this professional work?
As complicated as the job market has become, when it comes to your job search, one simple fact holds true: it’s who you know. According to HubSpot, 85% of jobs are filled through networking. In fact, according to CNBC, 70% of jobs are never publicly posted.
Some people might cringe at the thought of networking. It means to put yourself there. But let’s reframe the concept to make it more palatable. Think of networking as connecting with people and building relationships, not as talking and using others to get what you need.
If you’re feeling stuck when it comes to networking, try stepping out of your comfort zone a bit and pick out some ideas to focus on during your job search below. Or, if you’re very sociable, try them all!
Rejoin. Participate in at least one professional or trade association in your field. Attend their meetings, in person or virtually. Get involved in your alumni association – join local chapters, submit information about careers and achievements on their website, and connect with alumni in your area of interest.
Learn. When attending professional conferences, introduce yourself to the speakers and attendees. Get a list of attendees and contact them via LinkedIn or other methods. Attend professional development programs, speeches or trainings relevant to your needs. Meet people and ask questions about what they are learning.
Interact. Stay in touch with college professors and instructors, other students, and those you meet through your profession. Schedule a few regular meetings – online or in person – with key contacts and invite them to professional meetings. Stay alert to what is happening in their lives. Send notes of personal or professional congratulations and encouragement, as appropriate.
To share. Share resources such as articles, newsletters, reports or programs with your contacts that include a short note with your ideas. Contribute to LinkedIn, journals and newsletters from your business or professional organizations and connect with editors, staff or readers.
Follow. Don’t forget to express your appreciation – for resources, contacts or time – by email or even in writing. Keep track of your business contacts in a spreadsheet or the old-fashioned way by organizing business cards or scanning them into an app.
Networking is key to finding professional employment, and staying in touch with people throughout your career is essential. It’s a lifelong skill that will continue to reap rewards. Remember that networking is not just about what you obtain. It’s also about what you can give to others. Network knowing that this is a real quest for human connection, and the benefits go both ways.
The Lifelong Learner is a monthly article written by the UW-Madison Continuing Studies staff. April McHugh, Career and Education Counselor, can be reached at [email protected] This article first appeared in the Wisconsin State Journal June 12, 2022.