The Three R’s of Networking for Grads

While you studied at a college or university, you learned many skills, but there’s a good chance you didn’t focus any attention on developing your networking skills. In fact, most college curriculums do not include coursework that teaches you how to find a job, or how to build a career. And that’s a shame because it is these types of skills that lead to long-term success.

Your college major matters very little compared to what kind of person you are to work with. Why? People want to work with people they know and like. The people making the hiring decisions will get to know you during the interview process, and if they like you, your chances of getting hired go up. If they don’t like you, you’ll probably be starting the job search process back at square one. To avoid that, work on strengthening your networking skills, and meeting contacts who can give you referrals, recommendations, and references.

For example, a referral is when a networking contact informs you of a job opening or connects you with someone else who knows of one. A recommendation is when a contact puts in a good word for you directly to the person who is hiring. And a reference is when someone can personally vouch for the quality of your work.

Here are some examples:

Referral. “Hi Tom. Last night I met an impressive young man at the Business Marketing Association networking event in Milwaukee. He mentioned he was currently looking for an entry-level position and I remembered we have one open in your department. Just thought I’d pass his resume along.”

Recommendation. “Good morning Leyla. Last week I met an impressive young man and I’ve had a chance to sit down and talk with him about his internship experience and I’ve got to tell you, I think this is someone we should bring in for an interview. He mentioned he was currently looking for an entry-level position and I think he’d be a great fit here at our firm. Isn’t your department hiring right now? I really think we should give this young man a shot.”

Reference. “Paulo, glad I ran into here. Listen I wanted to mention a potential candidate for that marketing coordinator position your company has open. There’s an exceptional graduate from the University of Missouri that’s been temping for us all summer. She’s fantastic. Self-starter, great attitude and completely competent. If we didn’t have a hiring freeze I’d hire her myself. Interested, great! I’ll email you her resume this afternoon.”

If you have very little work experience, or none at all, look for volunteer opportunities so you can build a list of people who can speak directly to the quality of work you are capable of producing.


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