This is a post of a good friend of mine on a popular forum on the art of networking. Enjoy!!
With the emergence of Facebook, LinkedIn and other huge social networks, it’s quite clear that the way we get information on important events and jobs is changing rapidly. Lots of sociological studies have been conducted and have shown that networking may be one of the most successful strategies employed in a huge percentage of job searches. People in the industry will know about an internal job database and there are many jobs that are not advertised. Furthermore there are huge incentives given to people who refer their contacts for related positions. I know of people getting about $2000 for a successful referral. People find their jobs or internships through networking with friends, relatives, professors and even recruiters at professional / career related events. It helps you develop contacts with people who might put your resume through to the people that matter.
Now networking need not mean using someone to get you a job at their company. Here’s an example in my life. I know a online forum member pretty well who happens to be in the field of security as well. So when I had an interview with a particular company, he in turn knows someone at that company whom he introduced me to and it was a valuable help to me. This other time, one of my neighbors was taking a class with me and she told me that her husband is a recruiter for another tech firm and she’ll forward my resume. So you find contacts in the most unlikely places. NBA / NFL / NHL / MLB / college games / beer are great topics on which to make conversation. You get the point.
Few tips for professional networking:
1.Research who will be attending and make a list of people to contact.
2.Try to meet people over coffee or lunch by sending them a formal email requesting information on the company and work they might have in your area of specialization. You can use LinkedIn. Your school’s alumni group is the best to start with.
3.Practice a short pitch to be able to describe yourself in about half a minute or so. Prepare the type of questions you might want to ask someone, keep a few copies of a one page resume and some business cards with your contact details if carrying resumes is difficult.
4.If you meet someone at a career fair or something, remember to follow up.
5.Listen actively, dress all spiffy, make small talk about some of the latest events (“how about that iPad. You think Apple will succeed in this niche Netbook market?”)
That’s some stuff I’ve got from all my experience in networking. You’ll notice most of my posts on Edulix stress on the importance of networking. In the US, apart from the big companies, GPA doesn’t make a big difference. Having the right contacts and skills that meet a job requirements can give someone with a 3.33 GPA the edge over the class nerd with a 4.0.
1. Try to get your profile as complete as possible and get recommendations from people that matter.
2. Join relevant groups and participate in discussions. In the hacking community, reconnaissance is the most important step. With the data you get, you process information that’s needed to proceed. Similarly in job hunting, get as much information from people in senior positions, managerial positions as to what skills matter the most in an interview or a resume scan to select a candidate. Also you’ll find out some interesting new developments in technology which seem to be gaining ground in the market and you can be one of the early birds.
3. Don’t go about sending annoying messages to people asking for a referral. Rather, ask them politely about company hiring policies, skills required for bulk of the projects they undertake, what a typical day at work is like and fun stuff / research / independent stuff that takes place there.
In real life networking, try speaking to people from different areas so you get a new perspective on things. You might get some killer project ideas as well and maybe your career will take a new and interesting turn. For example, after making friends with people majoring in economics, it made me read up a lot on the economic aspect of some research I was working on as well as checking out game theory math.
To improve on your speaking skills, most universities will have small clubs that help international students speak English. If you’re as interested in public speaking as I am, see if there is a Toastmasters International chapter in your school or in your area. Tone modulation, hand gestures, body language etc. really help you during interviews, presentations etc. Besides you never know whom you might meet at these gatherings.