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Networking and LinkedIn

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Networking can come in many different shapes and sizes. No matter how you network, all networking has one thing in common: it is about strategically reaching out and growing mutually beneficial relationships over time.

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What is Networking?

Networking, in a professional sense, is an organized method of making links from the people you know to the people they know - to exchange information, advice, contacts or support. Networking is a process of building relationships, which will continue throughout your career. Effective networking includes attending guest lectures on campus, reaching out on LinkedIn, or placing a call to a former supervisor.

Networking Checklist

_____ Practice having new conversations.
_____ Prepare an elevator pitch.
_____ Find opportunities to meet professionals in your field.
_____ Connect and introduce yourself.
_____ Request meetings or informational interviews.
_____ Be appreciative and thankful for the time and advice you are given.
_____ Stay in touch.
_____ Join LinkedIn and maintain professional social media profiles.

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Prepare your Elevator Pitch

An elevator pitch is a short summary explanation used to share who you are, what you do, and why someone should want to learn more about you in two minutes or less. It should be thought of as a potential start to a conversation or an introduction to get the listener interested in talking with you longer. The reference to an elevator stems from the scenario of running into a potential employer in an elevator and emphasizes the importance of being able to get your key points across in a short time.

Sample Elevator Pitch

“I am Chelsea Morgan and my career goal is to help engineer
affordable, renewable energy because I believe our environment is on a critical path. My environmental resources engineering degree from SUNY-ESF and internship with Halco Energy has prepared me for the toughest of challenges in the field. Being on the forefront of change is exciting and rewarding. The opportunity of discussing needs at your environmentally conscious and progressive company would be greatly appreciated.”

Elevator Pitch Checklist

_____ Articulate who you are, what you do, and why someone should be interested in learning more.
_____ Keep your audience and purpose forefront when preparing your pitch.
_____ Know your purpose.
_____ Less is more. Be concise.
_____ Keep word choice and language simple and avoid fancy jargon.
_____ Prepare and practice your ‘pitch’ to make a good first impression.
_____ Practice until you are comfortable, but don’t worry too much.
_____ Preparing multiple, slightly different variations can be a helpful option if you will be applying for             different types of positions.

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Informational Interview

An informational interview is a relatively informal conversation with someone working in an area of interest to you who is willing to give you information about a job, career field, industry, or work setting. It is not a job interview, and the objective is not to find job openings. Talking with people about their occupations or majors and asking for advice is called informational interviewing. This tutorial gives ideas about setting up interviews, possible questions to ask, and the value of using this technique to gain information.

5 Steps for Informational Interviewing

  • Identify people to interview. Here’s how:
    • People you already know, even if they aren’t in fields of interest to you, can lead you to people who are. This includes family, friends, professors, and former employers.
    • Use social media tools like LinkedIn or Facebook to find contacts.
    • Search organizations on LinkedIn or search their websites for names of people working in your area of interest.
    • Read news and magazine articles for possible contacts.
  • Initiate contact
    • Contact the person by phone, letter, or email.
    • Mention how you got their name (e.g., let them know if a mutual acquaintance referred you).
    • Emphasize that you are looking for information, not a job.
  • Prepare for the interview
    • Conduct research on the career field or employer using the Internet and print resources.
    • Develop a 30 second overview to introduce yourself, including your reasons for contacting this person.
    • Plan open-ended questions to keep conversation flowing rather than questions that call for yes/no answers.
  • Conduct the informational interview
    • If applicable, dress appropriately (you want to make a positive impression even though this is not a job interview).
    • Restate that your objective is to get information and advice, not a job.
    • Take notes if you like and always ask for suggestions of other people to talk to.
  • Follow-up
    • Keep records. Write down what you learned, what you still need to learn, and your reactions to how this field or position would “fit” with your lifestyle, interests, skills, and future career plans.
    • Send a thank-you note/email within 1-2 days to express your appreciation.
    • Keep in touch. Mention that you followed up on their advice and tell them how things are going. This relationship could become an important part of your professional network.

Asking for an Informational Interview

However you make contact, your message should contain the following:

  • Give a polite salutation. “Dear so-and-so,” or “Hello what’s-your-name” are safe bets.
  • Tell your contact where you know him/her from, or if you have a mutual connection.
  • Inform him/her of your objective: to meet, talk via phone, or simply exchange emails.
  • Be clear that you want a brief meeting or phone conversation to discuss a specific set of questions, and that you are not inquiring about a job or seeking feedback on your resume.
  • Provide a hint of what the questions are about, i.e. you’d like to know more about the inner-workings of XYZ Company, you’re interested in joining ABC association and would like to know about his/her experience, etc.
  • Provide two or three options for your meeting/talk so that it is easy for him/her to check his/her calendar and schedule the appointment in his/her return email.

Modify this script to fit your situation. Remember that most people enjoy reflecting on their professional life and giving advice.

Hi Mr. Johnson,

Thanks for taking the time to read my message. I’m trying to figure out what it takes to work as an Environmental Engineer at Arcadis and came cross your profile in a LinkedIn search. It looks like you’ve been successful in turning my dream into your reality, and I’d love to chat with you about how you made it happen.

I know your time is valuable, so I plan to limit this conversation to no longer than 20-30 minutes. I’m available Wednesday and Thursday from 11am to 3pm. Please let me know if any of these time blocks work for you. If you’re not free, I’m happy to chat the following week. I’m also willing to reach out to anybody you think could help me further my career. Thanks again for reading my message, and I look forward to hearing back from you!

Yours,
XXXXX

THANK YOU: INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEW

Dear Mr. Watson:

I appreciate your meeting/talking with me yesterday to talk about your work as the Sustainability Coordinator. I now have a much better understanding of the work you do at the Syracuse Nature Center and the opportunities available within the field of environmental sustainability.

It was helpful to hear that an entry-level position often requires background knowledge and experience in sustainability and economics. I have decided to enroll in an Introduction to Economics class this upcoming spring semester. I have also called your colleague, Cindy Jones, at GrowNYC to make an appointment to talk with her.

I very much appreciate having had the opportunity to talk with you. Thank you again for your time and advice.

Sincerely,
XXXXX

Questions for Informational Interviews

  • What educational preparation would you recommend for someone who wants to advance in this field?
  • What qualifications do you seek in a new hire?
  • How do most people enter this profession?
  • What do you think of the experience I’ve had so far? For what types of positions do I qualify?
  • What other types of experiences would you recommend I seek out?
  • Can you recommend any courses I should take before proceeding further with my job search?
  • What companies or industries do you think I should target?
  • How did you get this job, and what kinds of experience and preparation helped you most?
  • Who has been the most help in your career? How did they help you?
  • What organizations would you recommend joining?
  • Can you recommend another person I could interview like this?
  • Could you describe one of your typical workdays for me?
  • What skills are required in your position on a day-to-day basis?
  • What parts of your job do you find most challenging?
  • What do you find most enjoyable? Are there any negatives to your job?
  • How many hours do you work in a typical week?
  • Which seasons of the year are toughest in your job?
  • How would you describe the company culture?
  • Knowing what you know now, what advice do you have for getting into this work?
  • What personal qualities or abilities are important for doing well in this kind of work?
  • Can you recommend the best entry-level jobs to get started in this line of work?
  • What are the rewards/challenges/frustrations of your work?
  • What current issues and trends affect your work most?
  • Where do you see growth or change in this industry?

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Build a great LinkedIn Profile

...then use it to reach out and network!

With more than 350 million registered users around the world, LinkedIn is a powerful platform for professional networking. It also acts as a master resume and personal branding tool for you as a candidate when searching for internships or jobs.

  • Photo: Keep it professional and make sure to smile!
  • Headline: Tell people what you're excited about now and the cool things you want to do in the future.
  • Summary: Describe what motivates you, what you're skilled at, and what's next.
  • Education: List all the educational experiences you’ve had including some important coursework.
  • Experience: List the jobs you held, even if they were part-time, along with what you accomplished at each.
  • Volunteer Experience: Even if you weren't paid for a job, be sure to list it. It can be very valuable.
  • Skills: Add at least 5 key skills – and then your connections can endorse you for the things you're best at.

Recommendations: Ask managers, professors, or classmates who've worked with you closely to write a recommendation. This gives extra credibility to your strengths and skills. You can also post examples of significant class projects. Join groups for your industries of interest, alumni, or personal interests. You can learn a lot about your interest areas by connecting to people and groups in LinkedIn.

TIP: Take advantage of LinkedIn’s education feature and universities search to explore the diverse majors and career paths of alumni. Reach out and make a connection with someone who is now where you want to be.

Connection Request Example

Dear Ari,

I am a junior at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and found your profile in our LinkedIn Group. I admire your career in environmental conservation and hope to pursue a similar path. Would you be willing to connect with me and possibly offer some advice by email or phone? I would greatly appreciate your time!

Thank you,

John

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Hi Debra,

May I ask you for a big favor? I noticed that you’re connected with Jane Doe, an engineer working within the NYS Department of Health: Bureau of Water Supply Protection. I am very interested in that as a potential career direction. Would you be willing to introduce us?

I realize this is a huge favor. If you don’t feel comfortable introducing us, I understand. But if you can introduce us, thank you!

And please let me if I can return the favor.

Best,

Mark Smith

 

 

Inspired in part by: Syracuse University Career Services, Cornell Career Services, UC Berkeley Career Center, and RIT Career Services

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