Networking is one of the most important career skills to learn. Take a look at these networking statistics:
- 85% of positions are filled through networking
- 95% of professionals consider face-to-face communication vital
- 70% of people found a job through connections in a company
- 80% of professionals believe that you can elevate your career success through professional networking
- 700 million people are on LinkedIn as of 2021
If these numbers don’t convince you to immediately open up a tab and send a compelling message through LinkedIn, check out senior design major Natalie Jewett’s testimony about how she secured an internship last summer through networking:
Last summer, one of my connections tagged me in a LinkedIn post about an open intern position. I took the initiative to reach out and introduce myself, which led me to a summer internship! I would not have heard about the position if it weren’t for my LinkedIn connection, and it gave me credibility to have a mutual point of contact with the person hiring. If someone ever connects you, make sure you follow through and thank the person who connected you!
I also sent a “reconnecting” email to an old boss when I came back into town from studying abroad. I didn’t have any expectations other than wanting to hear about how she had been and possibly sharing a little bit about my experience. The positive outcome of reaching out was an unadvertised position offered to me for the summer!
You never know where a conversation may lead, so don’t be shy and introduce yourself to recruiters. A great way to start is with informational interviewing.
The importance of making connections is often emphasized, but what about maintaining those connections? Networking is really about making authentic connections that last.
Here are some tips for making meaningful connections:
- Be curious, ask questions and direct the conversation back to your connection, don’t talk about yourself the whole time.
- Follow up and follow through; if you say you are going to do something, do it.
- Don’t just reach out when you need help.
- Give compliments and let people know the positive things you are thinking! “If you think it and believe it, say it.”
- Send FYI emails, they have no obligation for either party but keep your connection alive. If you are thinking about a person, let them know.
As with anything, networking takes practice. Over time, you will learn which strategies are most effective for you. Here are some additional tips from professionals and recruiters:
“Do a LinkedIn search for a Specific topic + Biola to get connected to Biola professionals who are experts in that area. The specific topic does not have to be a job title, it can be a skill you want to grow or an industry you are curious about. Send a request and a brief message. It's amazing how many people want to share!”
- Heather Andrews (Biola MBA Candidate)
“Start building your network now. Start with friends and family and ask them to introduce you to people. From there it's about building rapport and following up. A real-world skill you can use for the rest of your life!”
- Scott Asai (TEDx Speaker)
“Most ‘professionals’ aren't as intimidating or unapproachable as they may seem to a college student. We're all human. We all have our likes and dislikes, hobbies and interests and salient identities. Find commonalities and start a conversation.”
- Christopher K. Lee, MPH (UCLA Health)
Vanquish the fear of rejection — and embrace possibility instead.
You do not have control of when a good position or beneficial connection happens, but you can raise your chances of being on an influential person’s mind. Take a step of courage and reach out to someone. You never know what opportunities may arise.
Ready to make some connections? Learn more about networking and other effective strategies in the free Job Search Strategies Resource on Canvas.
Katherine Rheeman is a Copywriting Intern for the Career Center.