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Networking is the process of making personal and professional connections. There are no straight lines in networking. Think of networking as relationship building and maintaining. You are reaching out to people you already know, to get introduced to people they know, to help you. 

Networking is the preferred way employers hire. It is cheaper than posting a job online, and the employer receives higher quality job candidates. The US Department of Labor estimates that 70% of jobs are filled by social and professional networks.

Traditional networking is defined as formal networking functions. Examples may include:

    • Career fairs
    • Conferences
    • Formalized networking events
    • Community events

These formal networking events are organized as an opportunity to meet new connections and potentially find a position.


A few tips for formal networking events
  • Dress professionally: One step above industry standards. People are judging you, and having a neat clean appearance will help you stand out.
  • Bring copies of your resume in a nice folder. Make a professional business card with your name, your industry (I.T Professional, IT Software Developer, IT Help Desk), your phone number, email, and LinkedIn address.
  • Wear a name tag and be prepared with your elevator pitch(see below) Research the companies attending ahead of time. This will give you some conversation starters.
  • Come prepared with a list of questions to ask (see networking questions below).
  • Use a firm handshake and look the person in the eye while introducing yourself. You only have one chance to make a first impression.
  • Asked open-ended questions and listen to the responses. Remember networking is about relationship building, and the more you listen the more you connect.
  • Ask for business cards, and jot down notes from the conversation.
  • Stay in touch with your new connections. Follow up with new contacts within 24 hours of the event.
  • Add connections on LinkedIn and provide a personalized message of where they met you.
Things to do beyond networking functions
  • Say yes to invitations:
    • Go to the ballgame with your college roommate
    • Go to your cousin's baby shower
    • Make time to swing by your neighbor's barbecue
  • Once you're at these events, be social and introduce yourself to people you don't know. You never know when you'll meet the person who knows someone with an in.
  • Volunteer: This helps build connections and gain valuable experience. Try to volunteer for things that allow you to practice your skills and build connections by showing your work.
  • Network within your company:
    • Have coffee with someone in your IT department
    • Have lunch with a new colleague every week
    • Build professional relationships
60-Second Commercial: Tell me about yourself

This answer should be short, sweet, and related to the position you are applying for. You will also use your elevator pitch in networking conversations. When asked this question, it is important that you are professionally branding yourself for who you are. The answer should last about 60 seconds, you want to leave opportunity for further questions later.

  • Who are you? The answer starts with, "My name is..." and "I am studying (name of program, or chosen career path)....".
  • What are some of the key characteristics that are relevant to the position? This should be your natural strengths that you feel confident talking about. 
  • Give a brief overview of your education/work history. It should be less than 5 seconds of information. Try to sum up your experience in one sentence.
  • Provide a career-related accomplishment that you are proud of: How did you make a workplace better or yourself better from an experience you had.
  • Share your enthusiasm and excitement about the position. This should be a conversation starter that shows why you chose to go into the field you are entering. The listener should want to continue the conversation after this.

Sample 60-second commercial:

“My name is Charles Tucker and I recently graduated with an Associate’s degree from the IT Network Specialist program at Fox Valley Technical College. I earned a 4.0 GPA in school and was involved with several IT related activities, including serving as the president of the student chapter of AITP where, among other achievements, I oversaw the launch of a new website for a local non-profit.

My internship was working on the IT help desk at Fox Valley Technical College, which gave me the opportunity to help troubleshoot network connections. I collaborated with staff and students to help with various levels of IT needs, including practicing excellent customer service.

I have always loved the IT field. Since I was young, I have had an interest in how computers work, and I enjoy delving into the details. In my next position, I hope to apply what I have learned through my program and internship to further my IT career."

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