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How to Leverage Your Network

What exactly are networks, and the process of networking?  Networks are your system of connections, all of the people you know.  People in your network can help you find a job and connect you with new people and ideas.  


The process of networking is to expand your network by meeting new people.  When talking about careers, the word networking is thrown around a lot.  There are entire events dedicated to networking, and even classes to get better.  All with the promise to get you better at it, and to get you that dream job.


Networking can be hard, especially when you’re looking for a job.  You don’t want to come off as desperate, but you need to be firm about what you want.  Being skilled at networking is important though, in fact it’s reported that 70% of jobs are found through networking.  


The solution?  Do it early and often, to constantly expand your contacts.  We identified four key channels to grow your network and how you can leverage them to find a job.  



Most colleges have alumni networks, some even have databases with descriptions of each alumni, such as their current occupation or industry. Alumni want to help. They may remember being in your shoes, looking to make a splash in a new field, or maybe they just want to give back to their school.Through your school’s database, you can find alumni that work in a field or industry that you’re interested in, and their contact information.


If they don’t have any information listed, LinkedIn is another great way to find alumni.  Used the advanced search option to find people that went to your school, then a job title like “consultant.” Once you’ve found someone you’d like to speak with, ask for an informational meeting.  This can be in person if you’re in the same area, or over the phone.  Email also works.  Ask questions about what they like and dislike about their job, and how they got there.  The best questions are ones that relate to you but are about them.  Don’t ask for favors at first, work on building a relationship and learning about their career.  After you’ve spoken, send a thank you note, handwritten if possible, but email is also fine.  



Fraternities and sororities are very similar in approach to alumni. These groups span the entire country, and are full of connections.  There are Facebook pages to keep in contact with other chapters, and many groups also have online information of all past and current members.  Contact these people the same way you would alumni.  


Many fraternities and sororities, particularly professionally minded ones, also offer networking events not open to the rest of the school.  You can usually find these events on your group’s Facebook page, or you can contact your chapter’s president for more info.  Some groups offer private events for companies, or even for specific industries.  Formal events may also be held throughout the year open to previous chapter members, such as during homecoming.  This is a great way to meet past “brothers” and “sisters” and see who can connect you to something new.  



Friends and family add a more personal touch to the networking experience.  By connecting with someone through a friend or family member, you could already have goodwill associated with your name.  Let’s say you want to intern at an accounting firm over the summer.  Take a look around your local area to see if anybody you know is connected to someone you want to talk to – Facebook and LinkedIn are great for this.  Say you find an accountant on LinkedIn that works at a local firm, and it just so happens he and your brother play basketball together every weekend.  Ask your brother for an introduction, and turn that into an informational interview.    



LinkedIn is considered the social network for professionals.  Not only can you use it to find people like  outlined above with alumni and sororities/fraternities, you can also find groups and join groups.  You’re allowed to be a member of 50 different groups, and they fit a variety of needs you might have.  


There are groups for internships within specific companies, finding jobs in a specific industry, and even for roles in a certain area (Consultants in Seattle, for example). Once approved to join the group, you can interact with others and post within their discussion page.  This is a great way to ask questions and find new connections from all over the world.   You can also “follow” people and companies to receive their updates in your feed.  We recommend that you follow all of the companies you want to work for, so you can receive updates on when they hire.  Chances are your dream company is on there – over 2.5 million companies have profiles on LinkedIn.  


Is LinkedIn worth it?  Read up more on the professional social network here.


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