Starting Your Online Network-Get Out Your Pen Pt. 1

By Lisa Correu, Principal/Job Search Advocate AfterSchool Career Workshops

I was at a marketing communications breakfast presentation and talking with a friend who also happens to be a total rock star. He said something that really stuck with me, “If you need to start networking it’s probably too late.”

This applies to college seniors and recent graduates as much as it does to anyone already in the workforce. Second semester of your senior year is NOT the time to think about starting your network. You’re going to need to make contact, establish relationships and start a dialogue if you want any kind of network to pay off. And yes, you don’t know that many people in the profession you’ve chosen for yourself but unless you’re graduating from a Tibetan monastery you do know people.

So start early, add often and use it. Don’t let the thing die just because you got Netflix.

And just how might we start this network you speak of?

Try this: find a piece of paper (I know it sounds archaic but studies have shown that the act of writing something down helps the thought process) and make four columns:

  1. My friends
  2. My parents and their friends
  3. My faculty and staff at school
  4. Contacts from my internships
  5. Random people I know, or know of. This could be friends of friends, people you’ve heard about or a referral

Start writing in each column. Taa Daa! Here’s your network. Begin by reaching out to these people in your brand spanking new LinkedIn account and request to be linked to each of them. Encourage your friends to do the same so you can establish connections with them as you grow your network, they'll also be able to take advantage of your network. When you send invitations to groups 2-5 include a note as to who you are, how you may know of them, what kind of work you’d like to do and ask for any other recommendations of people you can also connect with. This is yet another reason to have a concise statement ready about yourself.

Keep an close eye on how this network begins to grow as your connections also add connections. The true beauty of LinkedIn is how your reach expands even when you may not be adding tons of people. Your connections do some of that work for you because as they add contacts you are also able to take advantage of them as well. Fabulous!

We’ll cover what’s next in our next installment. So get started, it’s painless and establishing a network is critical to getting that first job out of school.

Next: Updating your job hunt status, posting links, joining groups and exploring what LinkedIn has to offer.

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