When was the last time you recommended a good restaurant to someone? That was probably pretty easy,
and maybe even kind of fun. This simple exchange of information is considered networking. Someone asked
for a suggestion/recommendation, and you helped them out. Networking is something you do almost every
day! Networking can sometimes feel intimidating as a job search method, yet it has proven to be a very
successful technique in finding appealing career opportunities.
1. Get clear on your networking purpose: What information do you want to gather? Do you want to learn
more about a certain company, organization, or occupation? Are you interested in knowing how
someone “makes it” in a certain profession? Approach networking as a method for discovering how to
make yourself more marketable and learning what skills/talents you have that a company or
2. Consider making business cards with your name, email, phone number, degree information, and a
brief highlight of your skills and qualifications. You can make free cards online at vistaprint.com or on
a home computer.
3. Create a 30-second summary to use when you introduce yourself at networking events, during a
phone call, and other venues when you meet professionals in your potential fields of interest. Include
your education, professional experiences, strengths, and accomplishments that relate to the
company/area of interest. For some situations, you will also want to include what you are seeking (i.e.
more information, additional contacts, job opportunities, etc.)
1. Make a list of contact names of people who can refer you to someone in the industry or organization
of interest. This networking list should include everyone you know! These people are your "warm
2. Ask your warm contacts for names of people to call/e-mail to create a list of ”new contacts” (see Step
1. Write phone scripts prior to calling to get clear on what you will communicate to your new contacts.
Calling may be more effective than e-mail, but either method is acceptable.
2. Call contacts to set up an informational interview, requesting 20 minutes of their time to meet in
person. Avoid calling it an "interview," which they may interpret as your asking for a job. Instead, try
”I’d like to meet with you for 20 minutes to learn more about your work and daily life on the job.“
Remember that your purpose is to gather information about a profession, industry, or company--not to
ask for a job.
1. Send a "thank you" note within 24 hours.
2. Follow up with your warm contacts to let them know you contacted the people they referred you to..
This action will demonstrate your initiative and ability to follow through.
3. Keep track of all this information! Create a system for organizing your contact information and the
dates you contacted each one. Take time to record highlights of each correspondence and the
information you learn during the interaction, however informal it might be. For instance, if your new
contact tells you about a trip he or she is taking, the next time you make contact you can ask about
that trip. This shows that you pay attention and remember details!
Informational Interview and/or Job Shadow
Informational interviewing can occur at the professional’s office, at a coffee shop, or via phone or e-mail. It
entails a conversation about daily tasks, background, challenges, etc.
1. Read the Informational Interview Quick Tip:
2. Remember to ask for the person's business card before you leave and to express your thanks!
The difference between informational interviewing and job shadowing is that job shadowing generally involves
spending a longer time with the professional in his/her work environment to observe daily tasks. Sometimes,
an informational interview will occur informally while job shadowing.
Sources of Networking
The more contacts you accumulate, the more people you have to network with, and the more likely you will
find the job of your choice! The following are ways to expand your network of contacts:
Find Professionals to Contact
• Attend a Career Services event (career and internships fairs, employer panels, employer site visits,
and company tours). Find information under “events” in CSO.
• Professors, academic advisors, and other on-campus staff
• Consider joining a professional or trade organizations as a student to search the membership
database and learn about upcoming events:
o Example: Communication Professional Association - http://www.americancomm.org/
o Do an online search; “your major + professional association”
o Check out the Weddle’s Association directory -
• Student organizations – alum, speakers, etc.
• Friends, family, acquaintances, dentists, hairdressers, etc.
• Local community events – do an online search to see what is happening in the location of your choice.
• Chamber of Commerce; online membership directory, after-hours and breakfast events.
• Alumni Association, Forever Buffs Network - https://www.cualum.org/
Use Online resources
• Start a free, professional profile on http://www.linkedin.com/. Once you are registered, join the Career
Services Networking Group - http://www.linkedin.com/e/gis/113018/2D526C775499. There are over
1,000 individuals for you to connect with!
• Facebook, Blogs, and Twitter – while these are great tools to connect on a social level, you can also
use these free online resources to strategically network with current and new contacts.
o Use your Facebook update status to let people know you’re looking to connect. Search
through your ‘friends’ to see if people have experience in your area of interest.
o Search Blogs for topics of interest. Write meaningful comments and look for ways to connect
with the blog writer and others who are commenting.
o ‘Tweet’ your job search status updates! But, be careful not to be annoying about it. Based on
your interest, look for people to follow and connect with.
• MentorNet - http://www.mentornet.net/ for Engineering, Science, and Math Students.
• Rocky Mountain Internet Users Group - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/rmiug-jobs/, for Internet and
Attend Networking Events
• Caffeinated Careers - http://career-magic.com/career-events/ meets in the Arvada area almost every
• The Business Marketing Association - http://www.bmacolorado.org/students.aspx is a local
organization for business-related professions.
• Colorado Film and Video Association - http://www.cfva.com/schmoozers.html has monthly gatherings.
• Collectivnet - http://www.collectivenet.org/ is a collection of Front Range networking groups
Expand Your Horizons
• Volunteer organizations – Find an organization you are passionate about and get involved! You will
meet people with similar interests who can enhance your network.
• Religious institutions – Another opportunity to meet people and network.
Frequently Asked Questions
How will I get someone to talk with me?
The best way to get someone to talk with you is to get a referral from someone you know. If you have a
mutual connection, you can approach the new contact with more confidence because of your personal
How do you find people who will do an informational interview?
Begin by listing everyone you know, which may include relatives, friends, neighbors, professors, friends of
parents, parents of friends, your dentist, your hairdresser, etc. Every person you know knows many people
(especially your hairdresser). Talk to them. Ask them if they know anyone who has the information you are
seeking. Ask if you can use their name when you call the person they know: e.g. "I got your name from my
aunt, Jane Smith."
Isn't networking just using people?
No, because you are being very upfront about the information you need and are not trying to secretly
manipulate them. You are not asking them for a job! Networking is the art of building new relationships. Also,
remember what goes around comes around -- they can give you help and information now, but the time will
come when you can do the same for them or for someone else. It may be helpful for you to consider how you
can give back to your network and not just ”take” from it. It's simply an information exchange. Usually it makes
people feel good to be able to give information and help others, so you may actually be doing them a favor by
I don't feel comfortable talking with people I don't know; can't I just use the Internet?
It's tempting to stay with familiar methods or to let others make the first move when you lack practice and
experience in taking initiative and approaching people. To ease this discomfort, you may send an introduction
e-mail first; introducing yourself, mentioning the mutual contact, and stating you will be calling them. In-person
contact can be more effective than trying to correspond solely via e-mail, however. Before you call, you can
write out a short script for yourself and practice in order to be clear about your purpose and what you are
requesting. If you are extremely nervous about the process, role play with a career counselor or professional.
When you practice new behaviors, you move outside your comfort zone, and it’s normal to feel nervous. Don't
wait to feel relaxed and completely confident before you take action; your confidence will result from taking
action and practicing.
If the person can't hire me, isn't this just wasting my time?
It is important to reframe networking as a method of gathering information! If an employment opportunity does
eventually develop, you will be prepared with information about the profession, industry, or company. You are
building relationships that may or may not eventually lead to a specific job, but you are expanding your
knowledge base and circle of contacts. This proactive approach can enrich your job search in many ways,
including helping target your resume and improve your interviewing skills.
How do I start the process? What do I first say?
This answer depends on the networking setting. Refer to "steps to networking" in this handout and suggested
questions below for details. If you are at a formal networking event, definitely have your 30-second elevator
speech ready. If you are making a phone call, you may wish to write out a script ahead of time to be very clear
about your request (but you don’t have to memorize it or read it verbatim). Here are a couple of sample
"Hi! My name is ___________. I'm doing some career exploration and _________suggested I call
you. I understand you have experience in this area (or with this company) and may be able to give me
valuable information and advice. I would appreciate 20 minutes of your time to meet with me. Would you be
available sometime next week? Great! What time? Thank you! I really appreciate your time today and look
forward to our meeting at ____________ (reiterate the time and day)."
"Hello, Mr. or Ms.____________, my name is ___________________. Dr. Thomas from the CU Art
Department suggested you might be able to talk with me about the field of computer graphics. Would you be
available to meet with me for 20 minutes next week? (Set up time and date) Thanks for your time today, and I
look forward to our meeting on ____________. "
When I actually meet someone, what kinds of questions should I ask to keep the conversation going?
Questions about the other person or the subject you are researching will allow you to relax while getting the
conversation started. If you are at an informal networking event, here are some conversation catalysts:
• What kind of work do you do?
• How did you get involved in that career path?
• What did you do before you worked in this career?
• What do you like most about your career?
• What do you like least?
• How did you get into this line of work?
Of course, you can always talk about the weather, the food, or the event activities if you find a silent moment
and have nothing else to ask the person. Definitely stay away from politics, religion, and other controversial
topics. Please see the ‘Informational Interview’ quick tips for questions for a formal informational interview.
Should I take my resume?
The answer depends on what type of event you are attending. If the attendees KNOW this is an event to meet
potential candidates, then definitely do so. If this is a networking event or an informational interview, then do
not bring your resume. If you bring your resume, it is clear to the person you are more interested in getting a
job than simply gathering information. Your hope is that the person asks YOU for your resume, and you can
then e-mail it to him or her at a later time. For the time being, you are merely interested in getting to know the
person, gathering information about the career path, and gaining insight. At a later time, you may ask the
person for assistance as you see appropriate.
Revised: 08/10 Revised by: CS