Network & Connect
boston college career center
Networking is a great way to learn about the professional world, and it opens the door to many job opportunities that never get listed. Here are some tips:
You can make valuable career connections through a variety of sources, including:
- Your personal relationships. Talk to your relatives, family friends, members of your religious community, and members of organizations you belong to.
- Your professional relationships. These include colleagues, internship supervisors, members of professional associations, customers, and clients.
- Your social media connections. Social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter give you instant access to a world of contacts. See Using Social Media for tips on how to navigate these resources.
- The Boston College Alumni Group. Tens of thousands of BC alumni are connecting on this LinkedIn group.
Set up an informational interview
Once you've made a connection, request a 30-minute meeting at each contact's work site to make it convenient for him or her and so that you can experience his or her work environment. If you can't meet face-to-face, set up a time to "meet" by phone. If you can't meet face-to-face, set up a time to "meet" by Skype or phone.
When scheduling an informational interview, state your intentions clearly. For example, "I've recently graduated from Boston College, and I'm interested in learning more about the field of publishing. I found your name in the Career Network, and I'd like to set up a time to meet with you and ask you some questions about your career." If you have been referred by a specific person, mention that person's name right away.
Email is useful for making initial contact with people, but it is not as effective as personal or phone meetings for actual informational interviewing. (See Using Email with Networking Contacts for more information.)
Conduct the interview
During your informational interview, ask questions about your contact's career field and his or her own career path. You can ask any question, except "Can I have a job?" Instead ask, "What is the best way to apply for a position with this organization?" Check our Sample Questions for more ideas.
Dress professionally for your informational interview. When you arrive for your interview, state your goals for the meeting. Be personable, friendly, and appreciative (i.e. thank them for their time). Toward the end of the session, ask for referrals to other professionals who might be able to help you.
Send a thank-you note within a day or two of your networking session. Then, keep your contacts informed of your progress. If somebody referred you to another contact who was particularly helpful, write to the original person and let them know. If your work status changes or if you further refine your job goals, update at least some of your contacts.
And remember that networking is a mutually beneficial process. If you discover a resource that you think one of your contacts would appreciate, pass it along to them.