Question: I’m a non-traditional college student. I work full time during the day, have a part time job and I’m taking college courses at night, or online, and during the weekends. I am also raising two school age kids. My school offers some networking events, but I’m usually at work or in class when they are happening. I know I’m supposed to network, but I can’t figure out a practical way to get to any networking events or to meet people in my field. At the moment, I don’t work in the field that I want to get into, so I kind of have to start from scratch. How am I supposed to networking with people? ~ Abira, Detroit, MI
Answer: Abira, first let me congratulate you on working so hard and managing so many important responsibilities at once. You’re right, networking is a vital part of an effect job search, but it is not feasible for every job seeker to attend every networking event. Here are some tips for fitting networking into your busy schedule.
Set up phone or Skype informational interviews:
- Meeting in person is not the only option when it comes to networking. Conducting informational interviews is an excellent way to gather valuable information about your field, a particular company, or an occupation. Moreover, info interviews give you a safe venue for introducing yourself to potential contacts. Fortunately, these don’t have to be done in person.
- Identify professionals in your future field and within your geographic region; a site like LinkedIn or a professional association are good places to start looking for possible contacts.
- Since your college career center offers networking opportunities, get in touch with their office and let them know that, while you would very much like to go to the events, your schedule does not allow for you to attend. Ask if they can share the contact information for the employers or alumni who will be participating in the on-campus networking events.
- The info interviews do not have to be particularly long, especially if you prepare specific questions in advance. 15 to 20 minutes could give you plenty of time to ask questions while also sharing some information about yourself, your career interests and goals.
- Try to schedule the info interviews over lunch, during breaks, in between classes, or on the weekends. (more…)