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Establishing Your Network:Job Search sub-module 2 of 3

Networking is the process of establishing contacts and building relationships that can lead to potential jobs or other work-related opportunities. Networking will not lead to results overnight; it is a long-term strategy that will allow you to build a strong community can support you in your career development journey.

Tips

  • Prepare your pitch to sell yourself.When you are trying to build a network, it’s useful to have a short ‘elevator pitch’ prepared so that you are confident when networking with potential employers.
  • Talk to people you already know.You already have a network of people you know, including your family, friends, coworkers, professors, etc. Talk to your network for information, referrals, and other help with your career development.
  • Get experience through your programPlacements, co-op, apprenticeships, and volunteering are good ways to get hands-on experience and meet people in your field.
  • Attend events where you will meet potential employers.Job fairs, information sessions, and networking events are all opportunities to meet potential employers and connect with them.
  • Make networking a habit.Make it a habit by reaching out to new people and connecting with them by email, phone calls, or one-on-one meetings.
  • Always carry business cards.Whether you are attending a job fair or meeting a prospective employer, a business card is a physical reminder to a new contact that they met you.
  • Keep in touch with your network.Send a follow-up email after you meet someone, and be in contact frequently with your network.

Networking Steps

Networking involves talking to people in order to build connections that help your career. Make it a habit by reaching out to new people. You can keep track of your contacts in the Job Search Tracking Tool - opens in a new window. Watch the introduction video and go through each step below to find out how to network effectively.

Step 1: Prepare to Network

Your 30-second elevator pitch is a short speech that you use to introduce and sell yourself. You introduce yourself by first and last name, and explain what you can do, what you can offer, and what your goals are, all in a 20-30 second timeframe. It shows the people you meet that you’re prepared. This technique is useful for many situations where you meet or talk to employers, such as the following examples:

  • Cold-contacting
  • Career fairs
  • Employer information sessions
  • Online and in-person networking

To prepare your pitch, consider these questions:

  • What do you do? Explain what job you do or what career your education is preparing you for.
  • What are your greatest strengths and qualifications? Explain accomplishments from your experiences. You can draw on examples from your academic, employment, placement, and volunteer experiences.
  • What are you looking for or looking to do? Make a connection between your skills and what you can offer the company. Reflect on your relevant career aspirations or goals.
  • What are your next steps? Mention your desire to connect with this person, whether it be to email your resume, set up an information interview, or add them as a contact on LinkedIn.

Read some examples of elevator pitches: Elevator Pitch Examples - opens in a new window.

Tip: Practice your pitch. You want to sound natural and not robotic. This will help you feel comfortable talking about yourself in an unfamiliar or unplanned situation and make you feel more confident about your skills.

Step 2: Utilize Your Existing Network

You already have a network: the people you already know, including family, friends, neighbours, classmates, professors, current and previous coworkers and managers, etc. Make a list of people in your network, including their contact information. Talk to them about your job search and the kind of work you are looking for.

Ways to utilize your existing networks:

  • Ask for information and referrals. Ask about companies, industries, and job leads.
  • Request an introduction. Ask if they can introduce you to people in their network. You can research your network contacts’ connections using LinkedIn and inquire about people who are of interest to you.
  • Keep your network in the loop. Let them know how they have helped you and thank them often for their efforts.
  • Help your network too. Share any contacts, advice, or job leads that would be of interest to them.

Step 3: Try Cold Contacting

Cold contacting is when you contact a person who you have not previously met in order to get information. Cold contacts can be made over the phone or by email. You can also do this in-person by stopping by and asking to speak with the hiring manager about potential job opportunities.

What do you say?

Do the following when cold contacting:

  • Introduce yourself
  • Provide information on what you can offer, your background, and experience
  • Ask about any potential job opportunities
  • Propose a possible meeting

Cold contacting is one of the situations where your elevator pitch will be useful.

Read an example of how to cold contact: Cold Contacting Script Example - opens in a new window

When is it useful?

Cold contacting is more useful in some industries than others. Use your judgment of your own industry, and the following guidelines to know if cold contacting is appropriate:

  • More useful: In industries where there is constant turnover and in situations where organizations need to fill positions quickly. This includes industries like hospitality, food services, or retail.
  • Less useful: With IT companies. They often have an automated messaging system where it is difficult to speak to anyone directly over the phone.

Step 4: Gain Experience

Gaining experience as a student is a good way to get hands-on experience that prepares you for employment once you graduate. It is also a good way to meet and impress people in the field.

Experience through your program (experiential learning)

Gaining hands-on experience in your education in known as experiential learning. Below are some examples of experiential learning opportunities that may be part of your college program:

  • Apprenticeships: You are sponsored by an employer to complete on-the-job and in-classroom training in the skilled trades.
  • Clinical placements: You receive hands-on-training and supervision in a clinical setting.
  • Co-op: You complete alternating periods of academic study and work experience in fields of business, industry, or government.
  • Field placements: You receive observation, hands-on training, and supervision in a program-related organization.
  • Applied research projects: You participate in a research project where you apply the latest knowledge and technology in the creation of useful products, services, and processes.
  • Practicums: You integrate theory and practice and receive supervision in a work setting.
  • Workplace simulations: You practice knowledge and skills in a simulated workplace environment.

Other ways to gain experience

If your program does not include an experiential learning component, there are other ways of gaining experience, such as the following positions:

  • Part-time and summer employment: Having a job while completing your studies will demonstrate to a future employer that you have employment readiness skills.
  • Job shadowing: Job shadowing is an opportunity for you to observe working professionals in their environment throughout their typical work day or week. To inquire about job shadowing opportunities, reach out to people in your network or contact companies of interest.
  • Volunteer opportunities: Volunteering is an unpaid experience where you can gain experience, become familiar with different roles within an organization, and increase your confidence. If you are interested in volunteering, research organizations that interest you, or connect with community volunteer organizations.

Step 5: Attend Job Fairs, Employer Information Sessions, and Networking Events

Attending these events is a great opportunity to expand your network and meet with employers in your industry. Employers are prepared to speak with you directly about your experience and skills.

  • Job/career fair: An event where employers gather with the intention of recruiting candidates.
  • Employer information session: An employer delivers a presentation about their organization to a group of interested candidates; this is often followed by a question and answer period, a networking session, or a brief interview.
  • Networking event: A networking event, which can be general or industry-specific, offers a platform for making new connections and the opportunity to speak with other industry professionals in a more formal setting.

What to do when attending an event

  • Always carry business cards. Whether you are attending a job fair or meeting a prospective employer, a business card is a physical reminder to a new contact that they met you.
  • Remember your elevator pitch. Practice your pitch from step one so that you will sound confident and prepared when speaking to employers.
  • Follow up after you make a connection. Contact your new connection after you meet them to say that you enjoyed meeting them. Remind them where you met and what you talked about.

Step 6: Connect With a Recruitment Agency

A recruitment agency is a company that is hired by employers to assist them in finding suitable candidates to fill their positions. The agency will typically meet with you and conducting a brief interview to set up a profile. They will then let you know if an opportunity presents itself.

Here are a few recruitment agencies:

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