That's why our Career Services team always stresses the importance of networking for students nearing graduation. Networking can lead to job opportunities, career mentorship, practicum internships, and other valuable resources. By career networking early and often, you'll lay the foundation for future success.
What Is Career Networking?
You can think of career networking as an activity that’s halfway between socializing and interviewing; you’re not being hired for a job immediately but you’re not attending a party with friends either.
Career networking is the process of developing relationships with professionals in your field who can help you in your professional life. These relationships could be with people you already know or hope to meet in-person in the future.
A networking contact could be a:
- former coworker
- instructor in a field of study related to your industry’s network
- entrepreneur in your industry’s network
- licensed professional in your industry’s network
- government worker in your industry’s network
- anyone else in your industry’s network
- & more, outside of your industry
How Does Career Networking Work?
Networking opportunities could arise at an event, like a conference or job fair, or an event especially for networking – or through online interactions on platforms like LinkedIn.
Regardless of the circumstance, the key to networking is getting to know people before you ask them for help with your career. Networking is not about making a sales pitch, but about building professional relationships.
So how do you go about building these relationships? It’s easier if you prepare some questions or talking points before you start networking and go with the flow as it’s happening.
Career networkers typically focus on three things: being helpful, listening more than talking, and being genuinely interested in the person they’re talking to.
People are more likely to want to support someone who’s part of a group they’ve formed (someone they know and like personally). By showing a real interest in your professional contact and making yourself available for any help you can provide them, you’ll leave a more favourable impression.
Getting Your Elevator Pitch Ready
While we mentioned networking’s not a sales pitch, there is a term that sounds similar - and it’s essential to career networking. Enter the elevator pitch.
All career networkers should have an elevator pitch ready to go at a moment’s notice. An elevator pitch is a short, 30-second (or 50-word) speech that explains who you are and what you do.
It's a great way to quickly introduce yourself to your network because it delivers essential information about the value you could bring to any organization in the short time it takes to ride an elevator. An elevator pitch should follow a simple structure.
Once your pitch checks all the boxes outlined in the infographic above, you’re free to really make it your own! You can workshop it with friends (or your network!) and even throw a little humour in to make it more interesting. But you should always make it sound professional whether it’s humourous or not.
How Do You Get Better At Networking?
Practice! The goal is to create a network of people who can help you advance your career in some way. This might include finding a new job, getting career advice or mentorship, or generally gaining access to new opportunities or industry contacts.
However, the key to remember is that self-promotion is a goal, not a must; you can’t push anyone to get what you want, so it's best to keep things friendly and respect boundaries for anyone you’re networking with. The best way to get better is to remember this simple principle: make it a conversation between two friendly professionals in the same industry.
Do I Really Need To Network To Get A Job?
You don’t have to network to get a job. You could be picked out from a routine job application process and do really well in an interview, having mastered the 7 successful interview tips to secure your new career.
But networking allows you to meet people who work at your dream company (or someone who knows someone who does). It also allows you to connect with professionals in other fields, which can help you learn new skills and prepare for future career moves. Overall, networking provides you with more resources and opportunities than job postings alone can offer.
Getting A Practicum Through Your Network
As mentioned, networking is something people do unconsciously, but you can do it intentionally to hone your networking skills. Perhaps there is a company you would like to work at. If you’re a Sundance student, you can let Career Services know and they will reach out to inquire about a practicum. Or you can reach out directly to a manager or employer at the company to introduce yourself. Be sure to explain how a practicum fits into your career plans as part of your elevator pitch!
Getting A Job Through Your Practicum
Every diploma program at Sundance College includes a practicum placement so students can gain experience working in their field. The practicum is meant to transform theoretical knowledge learned in the classroom into job skills that you can use every day - which is exactly what employers are looking for when they hire a new graduate. In fact, many students receive offers of employment from their practicum placements after they graduate!
Practicums also help you build connections, including professional references. Some of these contacts may even become lifelong mentors.
Career Services is an excellent resource for students at this critical stage of their diploma program. The Career Services team guides students through all the steps of completing their practicum, and helps them translate their practicum experience into job opportunities through resume building and interview prep.
Ready for an exciting new career? Apply now to discover how career-focused education and practical experience in your field will increase your job prospects - and your networking opportunities.