The following is adapted from the Department of State Career Development Seminar Networking for Career Success.
No matter where you are in your career journey, networking is essential to building strong relationships and advancing your career. Let’s look at ways to enhance your networking abilities for career success.
The Value and Benefits of Networking:
Networking is the process of building mutually beneficial working relationships. It is not always about what you can get but also about how you can give to others. Additional benefits of networking include:
- Learning relevant information about your industry or job market.
- Growing your professional brand or career.
- Discovering alternative career paths.
- Improving your communication skills and confidence.
- Learning organizational culture.
- Offering useful information to others.
- Requesting feedback on your resume, CV or career goals.
- Connecting to a broader network.
Building Your Networking Circle:
To build your networking circle, be open to connecting with people from various organizations and clubs in new ways: in person, virtually or hybrid from your professional, social and online groups.
Where you can build your network:
- Lunch breaks with colleagues.
- With your classmates after a class or training.
- Community networks.
- Sports groups.
- Industry-specific forums.
- Professional associations.
- Other social media platforms (e.g., Facebook groups or Twitter communities).
Networking for Career Success: Before, During and After You Network
One of the best ways to network is to organize informational interviews. Check out this list to discover what you should do before, during and after your informational interview.
Before your informational interview:
1. Create specific goals. Is your goal to cultivate more relationships, meet a mentor, grow your career, be introduced to a new career field, or receive advice or feedback? Have a clear understanding of your networking purpose. (Download the YALI Network Mentor Meeting Tool [PDF, 1MB] for more information.)
2. Do your research. Prepare for your meeting by researching your contact on LinkedIn, reviewing their bio or asking a mutual friend.
3. Practice your elevator pitch.
4. Prepare 3–4 questions to ask your contact.
5. Think of ways you can help the other person. Be generous.
During your informational interview:
1. State the purpose of your meeting.
2. Establish a common interest or reference.
3. Ask for advice.
- What makes you successful in your job?
- What skills does one need to be successful in this field?
- Why did you stay in your job position, or why did you leave?
4. Ask for information.
- How are people rewarded for their work here?
- How do you describe the organizational culture?
- What is a typical career path in your company?
5. Ask for referrals.
- Are there any other companies or people I should contact?
- Who are the influencers in your professional life?
- What can I do to help you?
After your informational interview:
1. If the person is interested in staying connected, follow up regularly through that person’s preferred communications channel.
- You can follow up each season or on holidays, about 2–3 times a year.
- Set a reminder or create a draft email to remind yourself to reach out.
2. Send a thank-you note.
- Thank the person through an electronic, handwritten or voice message.
Visit our YALIProfessionals page for more tools and resources to advance your career.