My oldest will be graduating in May; so this is written for all the upcoming college graduates.
Maybe you are reluctant to ask your mom or dad if they would help you to build your professional network. Don’t be.
Tapping a wider network of professional contacts can advance your job hunt, especially for recent graduates who are still figuring out their professional identities and their job search strategies.
Ask first, then contact.
Ask for some specific introductions and names of people in companies you are interested in. Then ask your connection to tell you about the person, their career, expertise, and how long they’ve known each other.
When you introduce yourself to the contact, write a personal note, something like: “You know my Mom; she speaks highly of you as a respected leader in Community Development. I’ll be graduating this May and would like to connect with you.”
Have conversations. Don’t ask for a job.
Learn to have conversations with people. Approach contacts with an “information gathering” perspective. If the person is available for a brief conversation, ask how they got started in their career, what challenges they faced and any advice they can share with someone getting started in the industry. Use your curiosity to learn about different career options.
Keep in mind that most professionals are happy to help you if they can. Many like the opportunity to pay-it-forward by helping young professionals make connections and by opening doors.
When someone you know gives you access to their network, recognize its value and treat it with respect. Approach each contact professionally and be sure to follow up.
Don’t forget to follow up with the person who provided the initial contact (whether it’s your mom, dad, neighbor or other relative). Be sure to let them know how your efforts are going. Your contact may want to send their own note of appreciation.
If you are a college student about to graduate, finish strong and best of luck in your job search!