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Next Article: One-on-One Networking
There is no simple guidebook on how to network. It involves a concerted effort to meet (and potentially form a professional relationship) with others. Some might say that it involves meeting people in an intended career field. In reality, individuals outside of your chosen carer field or industry can provide many of the benefits discussed above. For example, meeting someone at a company can help in gaining employment or an internship with that company – even if the individual does not work in your chosen career field.
- Note: View our article, One-on-One Networking to learn a step-by-step approach to effectively networking with individuals you meet.
With that being said, here are some common methods to network with others:
- Networking Groups – If you do a diligent search, you will likely find some of these groups in your town. These individuals meet together with the entire purpose of creating career and professional opportunities for members. Unfortunately, their focus is not on finding employment. They generally seek to generate business opportunities within your current career field – such as business/client referrals.
- Employment/Internships – The individuals in your current job (if applicable) or internship are (or should be) your connections. If they have your best interest in mind, they can be a great benefit to you in the future by providing a job reference or introducing you to others.
- Professional Groups – There are many professional groups out there. They seek to provide information, education, and opportunities – such as jobs, careers, or industries. The most well-known of such organizational local Chambers of Commerce. Largely towns/cities may have all forms of professional interest groups.
- Status/Affiliation Groups – These are groups that allow you membership or affiliation based upon your status. These generally include religion, racial minority status, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, and veteran groups.
- Social/Interest Groups – Joining social groups or clubs can be a great way to meet influential people. This might include groups concerning: community involvement/service, sports, or hobbies.
Business School and Networking
Business school is designed to provide far more than education. They also seek to create career-ready students and to facilitate their career search. Part of that effort is to provide students with networking opportunities.
The most notable manners through which business schools provide access to a network include:
- Student/Alumni relations – There is somewhat of a social contract among alumni and their alma maters. There is the expectation that they continue to serve the institution after graduation. This generally includes making donations to school programs and assisting current students in numerous ways. Student assistance generally takes the form of professional mentoring, career guidance, and intern/employee recruiting. Alumni who are employees in companies can often create employment opportunities for students by referral for internships or interviews.
- Company Information/Networking Events – Schools frequently offer company information and networking sessions. At these events, representatives from companies come to the school with the specific purpose of meeting students interested in employment. They provide information (such as company operations, structure, and available positions) and a pathway to applying to the company.
Of course, the event to which business programs can offer these benefits varies with the level of resources and connections that the school possesses. Small schools that graduate very few students cannot provide a large alumni base. Schools without extensive industry connections cannot host extensive company networking events.
- Note: It may surprise you to know that this aspect of a business school is far more important than the quality of classroom instruction when it comes to creating opportunities. Of course, it should not surprise you to know that the business programs with the highest academic prowess generally offer exceptional networking opportunities.