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Networking Your Way to the Perfect Career

Sep 16, 2011 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Columnist | 2 Comments

In the recession, many job experts advise recent graduates to rely on networking rather than sending out resumes to get their first job. The job market is increasingly competitive, the logic goes—and if you’re one of hundreds or thousands of applicants who just sent in an impersonal resume, it’s statistically unlikely that you’ll get hired. If you know someone, however, you have a much greater chance of jumping over the enormous applicant pool—and landing in a new job.

But to many recent graduates, networking is a dirty word. It For many people, networking has a bad connotation. It brings to mind smarminess and being “fake” to angle for job offers and favors. If you think you have to go out there and ask strangers for favors, you’ll probably cringe at networking—and avoid it at all costs.

Networking doesn’t have to be that way. It can be fun—and a great way to make new friends. Here are a few tips for effective networking in today’s digital environment—that just might lead to your next job.

Go online

People Networking

Networking doesn’t have to be a dirty word. Instead of thinking about what you can get from the other people you’re meeting, think of how you can help them.


Finding groups to network with is easy online. Check out websites like, for the most general and wide-reaching search. Then narrow your focus to industry-specific sites that allow you to create a profile and show samples of your work. Photographers can showcase their work on, programmers can use sites like and Stack, and a range of activists, artists, and event planners can use to showcase past and future achievements while connecting with other like-minded people. Whatever your specialty, find online sites where your people congregate—and get a profile up that clearly shows your talents, history, and work.

Choose the right specialty

Networking takes time—and it’s always easier to forge connections if you share a true passion with the other person. Be sure to choose networks that cater to the industry you love—not the one you think you should be in, or the one you majored in if it isn’t your passion. It’s much more difficult to network if you don’t have a true interest in a common subject.

Focus on what you can give—not what you can get

If you want to be an excellent networker, throw out the old idea that you’re trying to “get” something from others. Instead, think of it as trying to help people. You have plenty to offer too—whether it’s connections and job offers of your own or just a shared passion for a topic or industry. Whenever you meet someone new, don’t think of what they can do for you, but what you can do for them. Then when you get in touch, it will be with something needed and welcome—not with a private agenda that will make you and the other person uncomfortable. This is a much better way to build genuine friendships that might lead to professional help down the line.

Get offline as soon as possible

Online networking is great—but it can only take you so far. Get offline as soon as you can by suggesting a meeting, organizing an event, or attending an event that someone else organizes. Once you meet someone offline, you can get started building real relationships and connections that could lead to something good for your future.

Networking doesn’t have to be a dirty word. Instead of thinking about what you can get from the other people you’re meeting, think of how you can help them. Join the right networks—ones you share a strong interest with—and set up an online profile that showcases your strengths. But don’t just depend on online socializing—get out there and meet real people as soon as you can. If you do, you’re much more likely to make real friendships—with people who help you because they want to, and because you’ve been such a help to them.


Guest Over a year ago

"Get offline as soon as possible" is excellent advice. Once you have established great online connections be intentional about connecting in person.


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