Networking - Making Connections
Networking is an important part of any job search. It is the process of establishing contacts for the purpose of gathering information, communicating your career goals, seeking advice, and obtaining leads on jobs. Unsurprisingly, the larger your network is, the more likely you are to be successful.
Expand Your Network
- Create a list of primary contacts. Your primary contacts are family members and friends with whom you already have a relationship. Let these individuals know about your career goals and ask them whether they know of anyone who works in your target area and who might be helpful in your job search. The names they provide you are known as your secondary contacts.
- Create new contacts. Start by getting in touch with the secondary contacts referred to you by your family and friends. Be prepared to talk about your career goals, skills and experiences. You may want to ask your secondary contacts whether they would be willing to have an informational interview with you. Another way of making new contacts is by joining a professional association, attending conferences in your target field and doing volunteer work.
- Make cold calls. Calling companies and organizations of interest and attempting to meet with the person who has the decision-making power to hire you, or with someone who is knowledgeable about the field, is a great way to expand your network. If you are extremely uncomfortable making cold calls, you can also write to the organization or company. However, networking by email is much less effective than networking in person or over the phone.
- Conduct informational interviews. An informational interview involves meeting with an individual in a field or occupation of interest for the purpose of gaining current, regional and/or specialized information. They are a great way of making new contacts and finding out more about the position, organization and industry you are interested in. They can also help you explore possibilities if you are in the process of choosing a major, narrowing down career options or beginning a job hunt. The goal of an informational interview is to probe your contact for information, not necessarily to ask about job openings. If you are interested in conducting information interviews, review the handouts section for tips and advice on how to get started, and ideas on appropriate questions to ask.
An informational interview is a method to gather information about a career. The following websites provide tips and questions to be included when conducting an informational interview:
Guides, Podcasts & Handouts
For comprehensive, step by step help with networking, consult our handouts and podcasts listed below.
- McGillCaPS - Guide to Networking: How to Guide
- McGillCaPS - YouTube: Networking Your Way to the Job You Want
- Quick Guide to Preparing for a Career Fair and Making a Business Card (PDF)
- How to Connect with McGill Alumni in Pursuit of Your Career Goals (PDF)
- TD Ambassadors Listing (PDF)
Books & Websites
You may also want to attend the Networking workshops and meet with a career advisor to help you customize your approach. To make an appointment, call 514-398-3304.