Networking these days is becoming more and more important for career related advice. It can be done at any age, any time. Networking starts with an elevator speech. The idea of an “elevator speech” is to have a prepared presentation that grabs attention and says a lot in a few words. What are you going to be saying? By telling your core message, you will be marketing yourself in a way that will make people want to know more about you.
An elevator speech can be any kind of short speech that markets you as an individual. It is a short description of what you do. The elevator speech is extremely important in networking because it allows you to get straight to the point--it needs to be 30 seconds or less. This is a vital tool in finding out what you have in common within the first few minutes of conversation.
Why Networking Is Important?
In the United States almost 80% of jobs are found through the “hidden” job market. That means that these jobs are filled before they even hit the job boards. How do people find these jobs? Through networking! Networking can seem a bit intimidating if you have never done it before, but networking can be as simple as having a conversation!
If you want to network with people in a specific field, go to events where you think they’ll be – make your own luck. Opportunities to network may arise from planned events or spontaneously at on- and off-campus functions.
On-campus Networking Opportunities
- Career Fairs (held in the spring and fall)
- Employer presentations/info sessions
- Employer tables at the Memorial Union and/or within your department
- Clubs and organization events, such as panel presentations
When you are attending a networking event a good way to differentiate yourself and be a connector is to meet several people in the beginning of the event. During the second half of the event, begin to introduce people that you have met and connect them.
How to Prepare for Networking
- Make a List: Keep a running list of possible contacts. Start with friends, family, neighbors, classmates, and professors. Write down everyone you can think of, you never know which contact may lead you to the contact who helps you find a job or someone who can possibly guide you.
- Develop a Plan of Attack: Take some time to thoughtfully develop a plan. Identify your objective. Networking will be easier and more effective if you have a clear objective to communicate.
- Prepare a 30 second elevator speech: Describe your major, career interests, work experience, extracurricular activities, and the type of career information or job you are seeking.