Everyone tells me that once you leave Duke, the best way to get a job is through networking, but what does that really mean?
Conventional wisdom tells us that more than 80 percent of all openings will be filled through networking. Essentially, networking is building connections with people. Even the most retiring of graduates has a list. Some you've known all your life: relatives and friends of the family. Others, you've shared common interests with at Duke: singing in the Chapel Choir or playing on the intramural fields.
What does networking with these people mean? Basically, you just need to start talking with them about your life and how things are going. How many times have you been asked, "Where are you working now?" Networking is answering the question, but letting it lead somewhere else. For example, you might say, "I've been with XYZ company for a couple of years now. Actually, I've been considering my next step. I'd love to talk with you more about that if you've got time for coffee in the next couple of weeks."
Of course, networking doesn't have to be just with family and friends. Any close relationship with a boss, faculty member, or mentor is likely to provide networking opportunities. You'll also want to tap into the Duke network: Duke Connect via the dukealumni.com website. You'll find thousands of alumni willing to start a conversation with you about careers. Attend Duke Career Week, and you'll have instant access to 200 alumni who would enjoy enlightening you about working in their field.
Ultimately, you're developing your own cheering section--people on the lookout for opportunities who are familiar enough with your strengths to know when to recommend you. You're building relationships with people who can, at the very least, get your résumé read by someone in a position to hire you for that ideal job.
Career Corner: May-June 2005
June 1, 2005