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In addition to your immediate career objectives, you should also be thinking about long-term career goals. You do not necessarily have to know exactly where you want to be five years after graduation, but you should have a general picture of an occupational interest for the next few years.
Networking resources include friends, relatives, and acquaintances. Consider the people you know through your participation in club or community activities, your membership on sports teams, and even your interactions in your community. Associations with parents of your friends, coaches, school administrators, and people working in your community may have already provided you with network potential. Now, considering your career goals,examine ways you can expand your network. Click here for a resource on networking prospects.
One way students develop a network is by soliciting assistance from professors, who often can provide valuable career information. Another resource could be alumni of the university. Former employers, internship supervisors, or volunteer work coordinators can supply information and other network sources, and of course, additional networks exist through membership in professional and social organizations.
Take some time to decide what you would like to learn about a particular position or industry before you begin networking, and assess what you have to offer an employer. Prepare a resume that summarizes your qualifications, and have it reviewed by the Career Development Center. For formal networking sessions, you should prepare questions ahead of time; for informal situations, prepare a one-minute introducation and incorporate several key conversation points on which you would like to elaborate if the opportunity should present itself.
As you network, be sure to be explicit about your purpose - to obtain information, not a job. Discuss your qualifications, but focus on the information received from the contact. Make sure you ask clear questions and you are courteous and concise. If you have a personal business card, you can distribute them, but be selective; you may want to ask for additional referrals. Be sure to have a few copies of your resume available in the event it is requested.
Always follow up promptly with a thank-you note. It's a good idea to keep records about all of your contacts and the people in your network.