Over the Winter holiday students may begin to think about the new year, new school term, Summer internships and the job search that will commence in the Fall. Since the break provides a relaxed schedule it is the best time to start arranging informational interviews, contacting your network, editing resumes and searching for internships. Reaching out to contacts can be intimidating and a bit awkward if lacking finesse. Therefore I’ve brought in the godmother of etiquette (in the USA) Emily Post. Below are some tips for creating your network and maintaining business relationships without being overbearing.
Who should you include in your network?
- A coworker whom you have sought out as a mentor or who has moved on to another job in your field of interest.
- A boss whom you admire for their honesty, the way they deals with people, and their ability to get the work done.
- A client with whom you have developed a strong relationship and who knows your capabilities from working with you.
- A friend who is successful and respected for their business skill.
Do stay in touch, but not so often that you become a nuisance. Some unobtrusive ways to remain in contact are to mail an interesting or helpful article, call to report news about a mutual friend, or offer to treat your job-search adviser to lunch.
Use your network for more than just job searching
Work on building and communicating with your network on an ongoing basis. Then, when you suddenly find yourself in the job market, your team will be ready to help. If you receive an offer of help, listen closely so that you’ll fully understand what is being offered. Once you know how the contact can help you should:
- Decide which materials give the best overall picture of your life experience and work history in relation to the offer of help and send that information to your contact.
- Determine how often you may call the contact to follow up.
Don’t overdo it…
- Being a fair weather friend who gets in touch only when he needs something.
- Pestering your contacts with frequent calls or emails.
- Constantly bragging about your connections.
- Being without a card printed with your name and phone number.
- Failing to get back to the person with periodic updates.
- Forgetting a follow-up and thank-you at the end of your search.
Handle your networking with care. The better you pace your communications and balance self-confidence with humility, the more likely you are to get results.
Susan Forrester is a full-time student in the Masters in International Management program. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Portland State University. After living in Seoul, South Korea for two years she was interested in finding a career that linked Oregon and Asia together through trade. Susan enjoys the diverse background of the MIM student body that allows her to frequently practice her beginner level Chinese.