How many times do you say to yourself that you need to do more career networking? You have great skills and talents, and networking might help the right people discover you. In today’s marketplace, achieving your professional career goals relies more on networking than ever before, but for many it can be intimidating.
If you are ready to meet new people face-to-face, there are numerous networking events related to your industry, interests and career. To find one to attend, do a simple Google search. Many are often near you, including Thomas Edison State University student and alumni events held around the U.S. every year.
If you would rather not attend an event in person, LinkedIn is a great, free tool to connect on a more personal level and grow your network in an easy-to-use, online format. If you're looking to expand your network or looking for a job at a specific company, in a particular industry or in a certain location — or are just curious about where Thomas Edison State University alumni are now working—the LinkedIn Alumni Tool makes finding those people easy.
Here's how it works.
Navigate to www.linkedin.com/alumni to start. If Thomas Edison State University is listed in your LinkedIn profile, it will automatically be selected.
At the top of your Alumni Page you'll see three subheads: "Where they live," "Where they work," and "What they do." Click the arrow to the right to view additional categories, which include "Where they studied," "What they're skilled at" and "How you are connected."
All the graphs are interactive: Click any of the blue bars to drill down and refine your search. Clicking "Greater New York City Area," for example, will display the names of alumni living in New York City below the graph, and update the top lists detailing the companies they work for and the fields in which alumni work.
If you're job hunting and know you want to work for Google, for example, use the Alumni Tool to find alumni—and with your major—who work there now.
If the company doesn't appear in your top five list, click the magnifying glass icon to search for it. Then, select the field of work to narrow the pool.
So now that you have found the alumni you are looking for – what do you do with that information? Or, now you are at an actual networking event, but have no idea how to start chatting? Sparking up a conversation can be easy, if you ask the right questions. Try ones that lead to further communication, open up new views and lend to valuable advice, like:
- How did you get started in your career/industry/field?
- What do you enjoy most about what you do?
- What advice may you have for someone interested in a similar path?
Of course, there are no set guidelines when it comes to career networking; it is what you make of it. But having confidence and a willingness to learn can get you far. Whether you are a student just beginning to look at what the industry can offer, or a high-powered executive looking to find the next great idea, networking is the key to success.
Do you have any tips or advice on networking at events or on LinkedIn? Share them in the comments below or on the LinkedIn Thomas Edison State University Student and Alumni Group.
Written by Thomas Edison State University