Grow Your Network
Network or Not Work?
Networking involves talking with people you know about the kind of job you are seeking. Remember: The more people you talk with, the more contacts you will make. There is a direct, positive relationship between the number of people who know you are job seeking and job search success.
Networking starts with your current circle of friends and associates. Simply build and enhance this network by asking each friend to recommend two new people for you to talk to about your job search. Consider the last time you made a major decision, such as attending school at Wisconsin, finding a new apartment, purchasing a stereo system or declaring a major. You made those decisions by researching the topic and talking with other people. Generally, the more people you talked to the more you found out - leading to a better decision! Apply the concept to employer research. You want to learn about potential employers - so talk to people.
Source: Irv Pfeiffer, IBM, 1995.
How to Build a Network
Source: What Color is Your Parachute?, Richard Bolles, 2003.
You are doing it wrong if you approach your contacts too early in your job search and ask them for help only in the most general or vague terms: "John, I don't have a job yet. If you hear of anything, please let me know." You must do all your own homework before you approach your contacts. They will not be able to do your homework for you. Nor should they be expected to provide that service!
How Networking Works
* Source: Tomasina Stephon, Northern Illinois University, Career Planning & Placement Services.
** Source: Mike Townsend, Vice President, New Options Group, Inc.
If you are serious about your job search, we strongly urge you to scrutinize all aspects of your Internet presence before beginning your search. Particularly in technical areas, employers are now using all available avenues to gather information about job candidates. With a simple search, they can review university "face books," web pages, blogs and other links made by you or others.
Test your Internet presence by searching for yourself on all the major sites and then start cleaning!
- Privacy Settings - Social media sites offer privacy settings to minimize access. Think carefully about what you would want a potential employer to see about you, and block the rest from everyone except your close friends.
- Personal Websites - Remove your connections to any personal websites (including your own!) that give a not-so-professional impression. Ask friends to remove postings and photos that may compromise your job search.
- Negative Results - You may not be able to remove all of the negative information posted about you. Your only option in this case is to increase your positive presence with the suggestions below. This may limit the damage, but be prepared to explain any negative information in a job interview.
- On-line Twins - There may be people with the same name as you; their on-line information could cause confusion and/or bad press for you. Consider using your middle name or initial for your on-line persona to eliminate confusion. If you do not have a profile on a certain social networking site, but someone else with your name does with with some not-so-flattering information, create your own profile, and keep it squeaky clean so an employer realizes you are two separate people.
- Stay Vigilant - Keep on eye on things with Google Alerts, which lets you know if there has been a change in your on-line persona.
The internet offers some great opportunities for your job search. Professional networking sites can connect you with like-minded and other well-connected people. Professional topic blogs can showcase your strengths and personal interests. Create professional on-line information with the following tips, to lessen the effect of existing negative information, or simply expand your on-line presence.
- LinkedIn - LinkedIn is a great professional networking site. Create a profile, search for contacts and post career related information. Look for groups to join that may assist you with expanding your network and visibility, based on your industry or profession. There are several UW-Madison affiliated groups to help you connect with other Badgers:
- Wisconsin Alumni Association
- Badgers in Engineering
- Badgers in the Biotech & Pharmaceutical Industry
- University of Wisconsin Madison College of Engineering
- University of Wisconsin Engineering Alumni
- Twitter - Follow the Wisconsin Alumni Association's career related tweets on @badgercareernet.
- Blog Smart - Find interesting blogs related to your career interests and post thoughtful well-written entries. Your communication skills will be on display and may help you get noticed!
- Grow Your Presence - Consider other ways to grow your on-line presence, including Amazon book reviews, product reviews, etc. Especially if you have some negative information on-line that you would like to have noticed less, find other ways to add to the neutral or positive information employers find when searching for you.
Remember, everything an employer can find about you is basically your internet resume!