Networking is one of the best methods for conducting an internship or job search. Not only can networking help you access information about career fields, industries, and employers; it can also be an excellent source of job/internship leads. Information about internship opportunities is often spread by word-of-mouth. By talking with people and letting them know your interests, skills, and qualifications, you tie them into your network. It's like having a team of people out in the work world acting as your career consultants.
Contacts You Already Have
- Family (including, for instance, friends of your parents, siblings, etc.)
- Friends (including, friends of friends as well as their parents!)
- Former employers
- Professors, TAs, classsmates
Contact the people on your list and let them know what you're looking for and how you're hoping they can help you. Remember that you are not asking your contacts for an internship or job! Rather, you are asking for guidance and suggestions that could help you in your search for a position. Be sure to let your contacts know the result of any suggestions you followed and thank them for their time.
Establishing New Contacts
- Alumni of Thayer and/or Dartmouth - Use the Dartmouth Career Network or Thayer School Group in LinkedIn. Note: If you can not find an alum at an organization you are looking at, please ask Thayer Career Services for help with finding other contacts.
- Members of professional associations to which you belong (e.g. IEEE, SAE, AIAA)
- Use company websites to search for HR contacts, key names in press releases or other.
- Attend conferences, trade shows or other events where company representatives will be present.
- Try direct "in-person" visits to an employer. This may be effective for small businesses.
Networking takes place in many forms, and can be both formal (e.g. career fairs, employer information sessions, pre-scheduled conversations with alums) and informal.
Broaden your concept of what a network is and how it works. This is not a linear process; connections are made at odd moments, under unexpected circumstances, and often after several side steps or false starts. If a person doesn't work in your desired field, it doesn't mean that they don't know someone who does...
Treat everyone you meet with respect and courtesy. In many organizations, those who answer the phone or clean the floors also serve as "gatekeeper" and have a lot more influence than you may think as to whether or not you'll be allowed inside.
Networking is a two-way street: the people who help you may later ask you for assistance. (Asking if you can provide such assistance after being helped is an effective soft-sell approach to market yourself!)
(From Tuck Career Development Office "Networking: Making a Connection - February 21, 2007")
- Know what you want from the contact
- Write down your opening statement
- Be direct when stating purpose but indirect in the ask
- Ask for opinions not information
- Do your homework – don't ask the painfully obvious
- Don't ask “no” questions
- You don't need to know everything
- Ask something that your target can answer
- Don't expect people to call back in two days
- Let the conversation flow and READ the person
- Follow up
- Maintain your network (send updates that don't require a reply)
More Networking Tips and Tricks
- Always leave the door open and get new leads
- Find the commonality when you meet someone
- Say yes a lot
- Go out of your comfort zone
- Start with strangers
- Don't try to cram everything into the first conversation
- Become known for something
- Be pleasantly persistent
- Start with the small, specific question vs. the big, broad question
- Read books, see movies, have a point of view—be interesting
- Ask! (people can't read your mind)
- Specificity sparks suggestions
- Don't make enemies in your own mind (of those who don't respond)
- Say thanks a lot (opportunity for another contact)