Did you know 85% of jobs are obtained through networking? And many jobs are never even publicly posted. But what is networking? Networking involves utilizing personal connections to get noticed by employers, but it can take many shapes — one-on-one, at a career fair, online, over time or over coffee. Remember, anyone in your life could be a connector for your career: recruiters, professors, classmates, alumni or friends.

Networking: Overview, Tools and Elevator Pitches

Top Nine Tips for Networking

1. Network on LinkedIn: Connect with people from your field, share your digital résumé, find jobs and follow company news. A LinkedIn profile is your online professional footprint, so now is the time to evaluate what you want to include. Here is an overview for creating a great LinkedIn profile and a LinkedIn profile checklist

2. Network Through Career Expos and Events: Register for Career Expos, panels, presentations, employer information sessions and more on Handshake. But don’t just go to these events, introduce yourself to the employers and follow up. Online panels and webinars are also available. Check out steps for career fair success

3. Conduct Informational Interviews and Job Shadows: An informational interview is a conversation with a professional who can give you insight into a company, position or career path. This can be a human resources representative, a recent graduate working at a company or an OSU alum — anyone who can serve as a connector. You can call or email employers and politely ask for an informational interview or “to come by and introduce myself.” If they accept, show up looking professional with insightful questions, and be prepared to talk about your qualifications. You are NOT interviewing for a real job, it’s just a meet-and-greet that builds a relationship and potentially opens future doors at the company. Job shadowing is an opportunity to observe a professional in your field or position of interest. The time varies depending on availability and type of position — some shadows last an hour, others several days. Read tips for informational interviews and job shadows.

4. Monitor your online presence. Remember to check your privacy settings and/or avoid saying anything on social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) that could make an employer think twice about hiring you. These could include political views, pictures of illegal behavior, online aggression, etc.

5. Network with Oregon State alumni on LinkedIn. Discover what OSU alumni are doing. Search for “Oregon State University” in the search bar and click on the “Alumni” tab. Then research job paths and companies related to people from your major or program of study. You can reach out to fellow Beavers and ask for advice, introductions and recommendations.

Sample Outreach Email: “Hello, my name is XXX. I’m a junior at Oregon State majoring in computer science. As a fellow Beaver, I’m really interested in your path from student to software developer working on XXX. Would it be possible to set up a 15 minute phone call to ask you about how you got to where you are and any advice you might have? Thank you for your consideration! Regards, XXXX”

6. Network Through OSU Contacts: Go to your favorite professor’s office hours and pick their brain about the industry. Ask if they know anyone hiring and if they could make an introduction for you. Talk with your academic advisor, Ecampus success coach or college-specific career advisor. Keep in touch with friends who are hired at companies of interest and ask them how they can connect you.

7. Network During a Job Search: Don’t hesitate to make personal contact with companies of interest. For example, call or email a hiring manager to ask questions about a job before applying. Follow up after submitting an application to inquire about interview timelines. Send thank you notes or emails after an interview. All of these methods do one thing: keep you in the employer’s mind. In a competitive and often digitized job market, the personal touch matters.

8. Network Through Professional Associations and Conferences: Being a member of or attending a conference for an industry association for your field is a great idea (e.g. American Geosciences Institute, Association for Business Communication). This is especially true for graduate students — many in the academic field find research collaborators and make contacts that lead to jobs. If you attend a conference, try to meet as many people as you can, go out to lunch with contacts, collect business cards and follow up with them after the event. Many industry associations also host job boards and provide career information on their websites.

9. Network Through Student Organizations: Oregon State offers over 300 student clubs and organizations. Many of these bring in industry speakers, visit employer sites and perform service activities that can be great for networking. Find the right student organization for your career interests.

Sample Networking Questions

So you’ve made that contact. You attended the career fair, you asked for the informational interview, but now what? Remember, this is a two-way conversation; it’s about learning, listening and getting to know someone. You should talk about yourself and your interests to a degree, but this is not the time for a rehearsed speech. Focus on learning from the other person.

Relational questions should be used for engaging with alumni, networking contacts at a company or meeting an employer in an informal context, for example.

Questions for recruiters would be used for an informational interview or meeting a company at a career fair with someone that has a direct role in hiring, for example.

Click on the options below to find example networking questions
  • How did you get to where you are today?
  • What is the most rewarding part of your job?
  • What is the most challenging aspect of working in your position/in your industry?
  • What advice do you have for someone just starting out in your field?
  • Where do you see the industry going in XXX area?
  • How is your industry different today than it was 10 years ago?
  • What are the top technical or computer skills you recommend people in your industry develop?
  • What other companies or entities do you partner with for your work?
  • What is your company doing that is really innovative and new?
  • Who else can you connect me with at your company or in the industry?
  • What is the best part about working at your company?
  • What really makes a résumé stand out to you?
  • What is the #1 mistake applicants make?
  • What is your company culture like?
  • If I were to be offered this position, what could I do now to help me prepare so I can hit the ground running?
  • Can you describe a day in the life in this position?
  • Are there people currently in a role like this I could meet and learn more from their experiences?
  • What does your team do for fun or team building?
  • What is the work-life balance like at this company?
  • What opportunities exist for advancement or professional development within the company?