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Networking: The secret sauce to your career success

January 4, 2022

Karley Clayton

Karley Clayton is Assistant Director, Career Services, SoIC

All throughout your college career, you’ve probably heard countless times that “networking is everything.”  While some may shudder at the sound of a networking event, as one of your career coaches I want you to feel empowered about making connections and cultivating your network. Why? Because your network is the soil in which your career grows, and planting seeds during your time at IUPUI is essential.

What actually is networking?

As a career development professional, I like to think of networking as making professional friends and building authentic relationships.  While some people think networking is about collecting as many contacts as possible, what makes a great networker is someone who takes time to build and sustain quality and meaningful connections. On average it takes about six conversations to really build trust with a person (Baber & Waymon, 2007, p. 49).  Building a healthy network takes intentionality and time.

Why networking matters

Have you heard of the “hidden job market”? It’s the concept that 75-95% of jobs are never posted to a job board (Hansen, 2013, p. 13). For people who struggle with their job search, it is typically because they are aimlessly applying to positions through Indeed or LinkedIn with little to no responses from employers.

Networking, though, and having meaningful connections gives you a major advantage in the job search because you are able to tap into the “hidden job market.” Employers prefer to mostly hire internally or through employee referrals.  That’s why making connections with people in the field, conducting informational interviews, and doing multiple internships during your time at IUPUI will give you a major boost in your job search.  Essentially, you want people to know who you are well before you ever need to apply to a job (that’s the real secret sauce).

Networking strategies to try this spring semester

We know that as a student you are busy with school, work, and all your other responsibilities. However, cultivating your network is something that you can build into your schedule. Here are a few ideas for you to try out this spring semester.

Attend an employer information session, the SoIC Spring Career Fair, or any other career event with the goal of making new connections.  These on-campus and Zoom opportunities are easy ways to engage with recruiters in your industry.  Afterwards, be sure to follow-up with your new contacts on LinkedIn to continue growing the relationship.  The SoIC Career Fair will be both virtual and in-person on Wednesday, February 9th this year–mark your calendar!

Tip for introverts:  Instead of focusing on talking to every recruiter at a fair, set a goal of having three quality conversations. Do your research on employers who are attending and prepare questions in advance to make the event less overwhelming.

Invite a classmate who you do not know well to get a coffee or lunch with you.   There is value in building relationships with your peers now, because a fellow classmate might be hiring in the future!  Next time you have a group project, see it as an opportunity to strengthen your network and to demonstrate how you contribute to teams.

Reach out to an SoIC alumnus on LinkedIn using the Alumni tool for an informational interview  Informational interviews are a great tool for learning more about someone’s career path, learning what insight they have gained, and building an authentic relationship.  Most people like to talk about themselves–in fact, it’s usually a person’s favorite thing to talk about! Although you may not always get a response through LinkedIn messaging, you may be surprised by how your network grows with a few simple messages.

The best strategy yet, land an internship!  One of the best ways to build connections in your field is to start working in it through an internship.  Being able to work hands-on with professionals is a fantastic way to organically build your network while learning valuable skills along the way.  At IUPUI, we found nearly one in three students who completed an internship were offered a full-time job by the company. When a company already knows how you work and they like how you’ve contributed to the organization during your time as an intern, they will want to retain you on their team.  Remember, internal hiring (which includes internship participants) is an employer’s favorite hiring strategy.

Connect with your SoIC Career Coach

Tap into your SoIC network by scheduling a career coaching appointment.  Need assistance with revising your resume, creating a networking strategy, updating your LinkedIn, or negotiating a job offer? Pat Rhodes and I are here to support you. Schedule an appointment with either one of us through Handshake and don’t forget to connect with us on LinkedIn!

Baber, A., & Waymon. (2007). Make your contacts count: Networking know-how for cash, client and career success. New York: AMACOM.

Hansen, K. (2013). A foot in the door: networking your way into the hidden job market. Ten Speed Press.