Networking remains the #1 job search strategy, since only 10-20% of jobs are advertised to the public (NACE).

So how do you start? You may think your network is limited right now, but you probably have more contacts than you realize.


Understanding Networking

Networking is a process of cultivating and maintaining relationships. It can be formal or informal, and can take place at any time. It’s talking to a professor, chatting with a family friend, or making conversation with someone on a plane. You’ve probably already participated in networking. Networking is not an annoyance. Do not feel like you are bothering, pestering, or using people. Most individuals love to talk about their careers and themselves.

UC Santa Cruz

Check out these videos by Stanford University! They break down the types of Networking and reframe how we should think about Networking.

Identify and expand Your Network


  • Family members (immediate & extended), friends, friends of parents, parents of friends, neighbors, members of organizations/clubs, faculty, classmates, teammates, roommates, supervisors, co-workers.


  • Join a professional association in your field
  • Attend local community events
  • Connect on LinkedIn and post comments in group discussions
  • Job Shadow
  • Conduct informational interviews
  • Get involved in alumni associations
  • Talk to classmates – who do they know?
  • Join community clubs
  • Talk to former employers, including supervisors and coworkers
  • Hobby groups: hiking, gardening, yoga, etc.
  • Connect with members of sports clubs: Health club, softball team, hiking club
  • Connect with members of your church, temple, synagogue or mosque
  • Connect with participants in trade shows, seminars or workshops you’ve attended
  • Get involved in political groups
  • Get involved in professional associations
  • Join a service or fraternal organization or group: Tribal Council, Rotary, Kiwanis, etc.
  • Join a volunteer association: United Way, Big Brothers Big Sisters, etc.
  • Attend campus panels/events/fairs
  • Go to industry conferences
  • Connect on social media sites

– UC Santa Cruz

Conducting Informal Interviews

If you’re unsure about your career goals or feel that you lack relevant experience and knowledge to pursue the career you want, then informational interviewing is for you!

It’s a chance for you to choose or refine your career path by asking a professional to give you an insider point of view. No one knows better about a particular career than the person doing the job!

Check out our page on Inforamtional Interviews.

Professional Image


Business attire is strongly recommended for attendance at job fairs, networking receptions, and interviews, whereas business casual attire is often appropriate for employer information sessions, panel discussions, informational interviews and other presentations.


Is your online presence helping or hurting you? Eighty-five percent of employers say positive online reputation influences hiring decisions.

LinkedIn is a powerful platform used by hiring managers, recruiters and professionals to find candidates, showcase their company, network or gain industry knowledge. But, few people are maximizing LinkedIn’s power.

Commonly referred to as the “professional Facebook,” LinkedIn is a professional networking site that allows you to identify and connect with potential networking contacts, research companies, and join professional interest groups. Employers frequently check candidates’ online presence before granting them an interview or selecting them for a position.


A personal business card can be a convenient tool for both you and your newly-found contacts. Keep it concise, easy to read, and professional. The design can reflect the culture of the field or industry you’re exploring. You can make inexpensive ones on a variety of websites.

-UC Santa Cruz

Elevator Pitch


  • Your elevator speech is a sales pitch. Be sure you can deliver your message in 60 seconds or less.


  • Say who you are, what you do, and what you want to achieve.


  • Your time is limited. Focus on what you want to do, not what you don’t want to do. Be upbeat and flexible.


  • Deliver your speech to a friend or record it, so that you can be sure that your message is clear.


» How to Create a Perfect Elevator Pitch with Examples

» Perfect Career Networking Conversation Starters

» 10 Ways to have a better conversation


An initial meeting or contact with someone does not establish a connection unless there is follow up of some kind. Developing relationships (not just contacts) is key to having access to opportunities. Stay in touch over the long haul—not just when you need something. Make it part of your long-term career plan.

Always send an email or letter to potential contacts within two business days following an initial meeting. You’ve worked hard to initiate this new relationship- keep this connection alive!


*TIP: Write reminder notes on the back of business cards—where and when you met, topics discussed, business areas, etc.

  • A key to networking is making yourself memorable. Writing thank you notes is a way to make you stand out because so few people do it. A thank you note can be as brief as three sentences:
  • Describe the event (“It was a pleasure to speak with you at last week’s association luncheon”), Describe something that made the event unique (“I truly enjoyed discussing recent developments in online marketing with you”), State your next action step (“I will call next week to see if you might be available for lunch”).Follow through. If you tell a person you will call in a few days, do it.
  • Relationships that begin with the goal of providing information can develop into leads to actual positions. The key is to keep your network updated on your progress. Keep track of your communication with each contact.
  • Thank everyone who helps you and keep people posted on your progress
  • Follow them on Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn
  • Congratulate them on career accomplishments
  • Share relevant career industry articles you’ve read
  • Invite them out to coffee or lunch now and then
  • Follow-up with your status on contacts provided
  • Send holiday/birthday greetings
Do's and Don'ts


  • Clearly pronounce your name, smile and establish eye contact
  • Dress appropriately and get to events early
  • Practice your handshake
  • When attending a function, make a goal to meet five new people in an hour
  • Enter and exit group conversations politely
  • Listen to others when they are talking and comment appropriately
  • Keep conversations short and focused
  • Ask for a business card and follow up
  • Take the initiative to approach others and introduce yourself
  • Jot notes down about the person on the back of business cards
  • Ask if your new contact knows anyone else that s/he might introduce you to
  • Take risks: the person next to you at a wedding or on a plane may be a fabulous contact


  • Expect instant gratification
  • Start a conversation by talking about yourself
  • Sit with a friend at an event
  • Eat and talk
  • Play with/Answer your phone in the middle of a conversation


Cow Creek Career Center Manager

(541) 677-5575

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