July 10, 2013
Networking do's and don'ts for new grads
I receive a ton of requests for help around this time of year from new graduates and college sophomores and juniors looking for internships. Many of them want to "go for coffee" or meet for a "quick chat." Truthfully, if I agreed to every request, my own employer would never see me!
I love to help young adults who are looking for their place in the workforce, but I have noticed some trends that are hindering their efforts. Here are some suggestions for being more effective.
• Research jobs, industries and individuals before contacting anyone
• Use the informational interview as a tool for helping you network with professionals in your chosen field or in a variety of industries if you are trying to decide on a major
• Respect time constraints and communication preferences (the professional might prefer a phone call to an in-person meeting)
• Ask targeted questions to get specific information
• Send out a broad plea to everyone in your online network to give you a job or leads ("Hi! I'm graduating from UW with a marketing major; please contact me if you have any leads on possible jobs!")
• Complain in public forums such as LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter about your job search -- ever
• Have a generic LinkedIn profile with no "meat" to it; it should have roughly the same information as your resume
• Neglect thank-you notes or emails to anyone who gives you their time
Networking is about creating one-to-one connections to other professionals. Learning how to do it effectively early in your career is a key skill that will reap huge rewards over the years. Even introverts can learn to use technology to network (LinkedIn is your best friend) and ask questions and interact within your chosen industry. Professional forums and online discussion groups are great places to make connections.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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