Networking is the process of making personal and professional connections and building relationships over time. Through conversations with people in your network, you can:
- Gain information about potential employers.
- Uncover job openings.
- Get personal referrals to other people who might provide information or job leads related to the career you are pursuing.
There are millions of job positions that are waiting to be filled. Unfortunately, you will probably only find about 25 percent of them online. The other “hidden” jobs are advertised and filled by word-of-mouth, through personal connections. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, approximately 70 percent of jobs are found through social and professional networks. Networking is the key to breaking into this “hidden job market.”
How Do I Network?
The easiest way to start is by connecting with people you already know. Your network already includes family, friends, neighbors, UMBC faculty and staff, and colleagues.
Reach out to these people with an email or phone call. You may simply want to let them know what you’re looking for, but you should also consider setting up lunch or coffee with anyone whose career path you admire, or who may otherwise be able to help you. Even if you are not interested in their particular career field, you will almost surely gain some valuable advice and connections to people they know.
Good networking also means meeting new people. Retrievers Connect is a networking platform just for the UMBC community and has alumni waiting to give career advice. LinkedIn is another way to expand your network. One of the best tools for networking (and gaining career insight) is informational interviewing.
When and Where Should I Network?
“Networking” isn’t as fancy as it sounds. It can occur at any time, in both formal and casual settings. Informal networking can take place at family gatherings, appointments with your doctor or dentist, conversations with other students at social events, academic department gatherings, or even in the grocery check-out line.
UMBC students also have many opportunities to interact with faculty, staff, alumni, and employers. Departments host socials, and faculty and student organizations often bring in guests speakers (read: potential employers) to talk about their area of expertise.
Finally, the Career Center hosts a wide variety of employer events throughout the academic year, from intimate, industry-specific employer panels to large career fairs. See our calendar of events.
Build Your Network