by: Pamela Ahearn, Manager Employer Partnerships, Center for Career Development
You’ve heard the term networking but what does that really mean? Networking is the process of building and maintaining relationships with people in a job, organization or career field that interests you. Through conversations with networking contacts you can learn about their day-to-day responsibilities, the skills and knowledge required to succeed in a particular role or industry and current trends in the field. Networking conversations can help you gain clarity, expand your professional network, and enhance your social capital. Let’s face it, not everyone has professional connections in a variety of fields. Networking is a way to build these connections and when cultivated, can lead to additional connections, opportunities, and future job or internship leads.
The great news is that Holy Cross alumni are known for their desire to help Holy Cross students. Most likely, they received assistance from alumni back when they were students. We suggest you begin networking by logging into the HC Network, a platform containing thousands of alumni who have volunteered to answer questions about their industry, their career progression, as well as how they have articulated their liberal arts education to prospective employers. LinkedIn is also a great resource to identify people with whom you might want to connect and converse.
Do you feel uncomfortable contacting someone you don’t know to ask them questions about their career? This is completely understandable. No need to worry, there are resources available to help you gain confidence in initiating a networking conversation and tips on how to lead that conversation. Take a look at the How to Videos on CCD on Demand 1) How to Conduct an Informational Interview and 2) Connect with Alumni on LinkedIn.
Please remember, it’s very important when you schedule a meeting or phone/Zoom call with alumni that you show up for that conversation. It is unacceptable to “no show” for that meeting and it could lead to the alumni no longer being willing to assist students. Additionally, you should always send a follow up thank you email in which you refer to any particularly interesting or useful information that was discussed during the conversation. Create a spreadsheet to keep track of your conversations including the date of the meeting, helpful comments, the names of any referrals and the date that you sent your thank you email. Stay in touch. Through emails, short notes or occasional phone calls, your goal is to establish an on-going relationship. This is how you build your network and potentially even identify mentors.