“Networking” is simply the ongoing process of connecting with other professionals; with an awareness of the fundamental role such interaction plays within your own career development. Networking is an excellent means of expanding your opportunities for finding work in the field. Many career/job search experts site the effectiveness of networking in finding a job as compared to merely responding to want ads or job listings. During a job search, networking typically is the primary method for obtaining informational interviews.
Defining Your Objectives
Before you begin in the networking process, it is important to have a good understanding of your career objectives and what you need to accomplish to meet both your short and long term goals. Ideally, you will be able to create a goal-oriented statement such as “I am looking for more information about job prospects in the Bay Area for scientists who conduct environmental toxicology research in a nonacademic setting.” Developing clear objectives helps you to direct your job search efforts most effectively, and help others in your network make more useful suggestions/referrals. Additionally, creating a short objective statement can be very beneficial preparation for making direct contacts to prospective employers because it provides a brief overview message about your purpose in contacting them, and how they might be of assistance to you.
There are many ways to generate your network of professional contacts- the following are two of the most common approaches. First utilizing your existing resources: speak with those individuals you know personally or professionally who may have information to share with you about jobs in the fields, which interest you. The second approach is contacting as yet-unknown individuals who are working for organizations that you wish to target as potential employers. Establishing contacts outside your existing network can be done through resources such as association membership lists, industry directories, job fairs, and so on. The SOM Career Development Center library includes several materials with contact information for organizations related to industry and the health sciences. Additionally, books such as “Career Renewal” by Stephen Rosen and Celia Paul provides samples of “cold call” dialogues and introductory letters to help you prepare for making the initial contacts which will expand your professional network.