In an increasingly competitive job market, a degree and experience is not always going to get you the job. Sometimes, you have to know someone or have a connection who knows someone at the company you are interested in. This page can help you to build that network so you have connections in many places!
Step One: Know and Articulate Your Goals
Where do you want to be in five years? This is not just a common interview question, it is an important question to ask yourself. Once you have answered that, think of the shorter-term goals you will need to accomplish to get there. Incorporate these into your elevator pitch in Step Two.
Step Two: Elevator Pitch
Below is a sample conversation you could use in many networking spaces, tailoring parts of it to fit the space you are in (for example, this is perfect for a career fair, but parts may not fit if you met this person while out for dinner or on the bus, for example):
- (Who are you?) Hello, my name is ______ (offer handshake)
- (Mention a link if you have one) ________ suggested I contact you.
- (Connect yourself to them by mentioning some personal information) I am a ______ studying _________. OR I am interested in ___________.
- (Schmooze a little – acknowledge that you know a bit about them or have a mutual interest) I see/understand that you ______. I admire what you have done with ____. The _____ with _______ is very interesting.
- (Ask a leading question) What can you tell me about ________? I would like to hear more about _________.
- Thank you for your time. (Get contact info!) Do you have a business card? Here is my card. (Offer your info) I would love to talk with you more about this. This is great information. May I contact you later?
Step Three: Business Cards
Business cards are an efficient way to invite employers to connect with you. Make sure they are professional by following our tips below and ordering some business cards for yourself.
Important Information to Include:
- Your name
- Your phone number
- Your email address
- Your personalized LinkedIn URL (visit our LinkedIn section for a tutorial)
- Basic education information (Degree, major, minor, Carson College of Business)
How to Order Business Cards:
You can order official WSU Carson College of Business, business cards here!
Step Four: Create and Update LinkedIn
LinkedIn is your professional online presence for networking! It is a great tool for building a network, keeping in contact with your network, keeping informed of trends in your field, and for the job search. Most companies at least do a preliminary screening of candidates based on if they have a LinkedIn and what is on their LinkedIn. Below is a checklist to help you get started! Be sure to make a Linkedin review appointment with a CCB Career Advisor to receive suggestions for improving your networking reach.
LinkedIn Professional Tip:
It is important that your LinkedIn URL is advertised on all of your professional documents, such as: your resume, references, and cover letter header, on your business cards, in your email signature, etc. Since it will be in all these places, and some of them will be paper copies, you want to shorten it and make it easy for an employer to type it in.
Here is a short tutorial for how to personalize your LinkedIn URL.
First, go to your profile on LinkedIn. Next, locate the current URL here. Click on the “Settings” wheel. On the right-hand column, click on the blue pencil. Now, edit the area you are allowed to edit with your name. If your name is already used think about adding WSU to the end of it or some other short personalization. Finally, click “Save.” You can now copy and paste this into all of those documents!
Step Five: Keep Building That Network!
Now that you have all the tools needed: goals, an elevator pitch, business cards, and a LinkedIn you can keep building your network and stay in contact with these people. When you receive business cards from others, or have great conversations with anyone, send them a LinkedIn message and request to connect.
The Role of Social Media:
Did you know you can use your other social media sites to build your network? Facebook and Twitter are heavily used by many employers and may be great places to “Follow” or “Like” to stay current on their hiring processes and values. However, you must also be cautious of what is being represented on your end. Do you have inappropriate pictures? Friends that post unprofessional comments or posts linked to your page? If so, consider cleaning up these sites, or not using them for following companies and make it private. What would an employer think if they Googled your name?
Growing in professionalism is a process that is continuously developed upon. In the business sector, professionalism is primarily on the conservative side. What this means is:
Depending on the situation, professional dress may be more formal than at other times.
- Dark-colored suit
- Not too much, if any, perfume or cologne
- Hair combed, out of face, and clean
- No gum
- Cover up tattoos
- Take out piercings
Other Non-Interview Settings
- Business suit pants, khakis, or knee-length skirts or dresses
- Nice shirt, blouse, or polo
- No jeans
- No gum
- Cover up tattoos
- Take out piercings
Sometimes there are more lenient companies and organizations, but primarily this is the professional dress expectation in the business sector.
Transitioning from College to Workforce
Once you have accepted an offer, there are new expectations and responsibilities associated with entering the workforce. Some starting things to remember about workplace professionalism are:
- Be wary of what you post online…would you want your boss to see that Twitter comment?
- Understand the company’s dresscode…and follow it!
- Be on-time, every time! If you know you will be late, or even be unable to attend prior work commitments, notify your supervisor promptly
- Get lunch with coworkers and learn the written and unwritten rules of your organization