Make Connections for Your Career

laptop and cell phone

Networking is talking to others about your career goals. These connections — both formal and informal — are critical to a successful job search.

Many job openings are not advertised. These opportunities are part of the “hidden job market.” Employers hire people referred to them by friends, family, or current employees. When employers do advertise jobs, there are often a lot of applicants. Hiring managers may want recommendations from people they know and trust.

The good news is that you already have a network. You might be closer than you think to connecting to your next career move.

What Exactly is Networking?

Networking is connecting with people you know and meeting new people. You talk with them about your job search or career goals. You might be networking and not realize it. Have you ever shared a job lead with a friend or family member? Or received career advice from a coworker? Then you have networked.

Successful networking depends on building relationships – connecting. Networking works best when it is a two-way street. As you reach out to others about your job search, think about how you might help them or share information.

When Should You Network?

You may think that networking is something done only when looking for a new job. Your network can help find opportunities and recommend you to employers. But networking is something you can do all the time, even when happily employed. It can help you advance in your career over time.

Get Involved with Your Community: Think about what’s important to you. What are your values? What do you enjoy doing? You can make connections through volunteer work, committee or board memberships, religious groups, and advocacy groups for issues you care about. You can also join a book club or a group that shares a hobby with you.

Informational Interviews: An informational interview is a meeting with someone working in a specific industry. They may or may not be an employer. The point of this meeting is to learn about the skills, training, and experience needed for a specific career area. You can also learn about a company or industry. Unlike a job interview, you are the interviewer. You drive the conversation. Never ask for a job during an informational interview. 

Professional Associations: A professional association is a group of people working in a specific career area. Members get to network with each other. They share industry trends and job openings that are not advertised. Use this professional organization finder to search for organizations related to the career you are interested in.

Online / Social Media: Social and career networking sites, like LinkedIn are important tools for job seekers and employers. You can use these sites to market yourself and improve your job search results. You can also expand your network of people to help you find work.

Treat everything you put online as public information. Remember, employers can see your social media profiles, including your personal ones. Make sure what you post is not hurting your job search. 

Help us Understand Your Job-Seeking Experiences. Take a Short Survey.

Minnesota State is seeking volunteers to respond to a survey, which may include providing private information under state and Federal law. Your responses are confidential, and the goal of the survey is to understand your job-seeking experiences, challenges, and unmet needs for supports. The survey is being conducted by an independent research team at UW-Whitewater and has been reviewed and approved by the UWW Institutional Review Board (IRB-FY2021-2022-23). 

*By filling out this form you are providing information which may be private data under Minnesota law. Minnesota State will use the information you provide in this form to contact you about your inquiries regarding the Minnesota Skill Up project only, and for internal business purposes as allowed by law, and not for any other purpose unless required by law or Board policy.