Career Services Center - St. Cloud State University

Career Services Center - St. Cloud State University

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SCSU Career Services

Networking Tips

Networking Strategies that Work

Networking is most effective when you are clear on what type of job/position you are searching for. Networking consists of creating links from people you know to people they know in an organized manner and for a specific purpose. During your job search, networking is critical because it exposes you to the maximum number of opportunities in the shortest amount of time. Take note that an estimated 65 to 70 percent of jobs are found through networking.

How to Network

Family and Friends

Begin with the people closest to you including family and friends. Let them know of your career goals. Ask them if they know any persons that could offer you insight/guidance in your field of interest. The general idea is to let as many people know of your intentions as possible.

Professors, Supervisors, Peers, and Professional

Communicate with your professors, supervisors at work, classmates, student organization members, and other professionals you know. Ask your professors if they know of any former students or industry contacts you could communicate with. Ask classmates if they have any friends or relatives working in your area(s) of interest or if they know of any websites promoting related jobs/internships. Both current and past employers (even your part time ones) know people in “the working world” therefore integrate them as part of your networking circle. Ultimately, make sure you make full use of every potential avenue/opportunity because you never know where the right job/internship is going to come from.


St. Cloud State University has an alumni office (Alumni House). With tens of thousands of SCSU alumni working, there is a good chance the Alumni Office may be able to connect you with someone in your field of interest. Another way students could make use of alumni is through joining student organizations, some of whom have an active database of club alumni.

Professional Organizations

Join and participate in professional organization activities. Professional organizations are an enormous source of industry information and can also provide a fast and easy way for students to network with industry professionals.

Informational Interviews

Informational interviews are usually conducted prior to job searching. An informational interview is a scheduled appointment with an individual within your industry of choice for the purpose of gaining insider information, to help you determine a career path, learn how to break into your field, and find out if you have what it takes to succeed. It can also be a great way to build your network, make valuable career contacts and obtain referrals.

Questions students could use while asking people for referrals include:

  • My passion lies in ___. Would you happen to know anyone who could offer me insight on this field?
  • I am currently trying to network my way into ___ career. Would you ___?

Sample introduction to be used when contacting a referral:

  • My name is ___. I received your name from ___ and they felt you could help. I am looking for advice on ___ career.

Sample questions to be used when extracting pertinent information from the referral:

  • How did this type of work interest you and how did you get started?
  • How does a person progress in your field?
  • If you were looking to hire someone for position…, what would you be looking for?
  • If you were in college and wanted to get into this field, knowing what you know now, what would you do? What positions would you pursue and where would you find them?
  • [If you feel comfortable and it seems appropriate:] Would you mind taking a look at my resume and offering me your feedback?

It is important to note that a person you network with may not have a job opening, but he/she may know someone who is hiring. The key is to exchange information and then expand your network through obtaining additional referrals during each meeting.

Employee Referrals

A referral from a trusted employee, colleague or peer is the source preferred by most employers. Through your networking endeavors, attempt to build relationships with individuals who already work in your company of interest, either directly or indirectly. A student's chance of receiving a positive response through the use of employee referrals is much greater than if you applied without one. Keep in mind that many companies have employee referral programs. Therefore, you should not hesitate to make full use of employee referrals.

Direct Contact

Contacting an employer directly can be achieved through cold calling or through browsing their website. Many students shy away from cold calling, but it can be rewarding if conducted professionally.

Cold Calling Strategies

  • First make a list of companies you might be interested in working for. You could define your list by industry, geographical area, or any other strategic method. If your list is long, do not be troubled because your odds increase the more contacts you make.

  • Try and obtain the names of hiring managers (who may or may not be from the human resource department) through website browsing, reading industry journals, networking, or through directly calling the companies' main number and asking for the manager of the department/division of interest.

  • In certain cases, the person you communicate with will refer you to their website for more information, and here is where you could explain that you have already perused their website and still have additional questions.

  • Your goal is to get transferred to the appropriate manager, but always have a list of questions ready just incase you are asked what your additional questions are.

  • Upon getting through, you should always be courteous. Do not sound pushy, but be confident with yourself and what you are attempting to achieve.

  • Always remember to thank each person you communicate with.

Hence, when job searching, students should not only take advantage of services offered by the Career Services Center, but should also network, use employee referrals, and contact companies directly to effectively maximize their chances of landing their desired job. Remember that the Career Services Center staff is committed to assisting students throughout the job searching process.


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