Why Developing Contacts and Networking is Important
Building and nurturing an active professional network, leveraging that network to identify job opportunities, and effectively communicating your value in an interview are essential career management skills that you can and should learn during your time at MIT Sloan. Regardless of your preferred industry or job function, these techniques will help you move forward successfully throughout your career! Job opportunities come from many sources, often in unexpected ways and times, and you should pursue all avenues available to you. A systematic approach to managing your career is vital:
- Nearly all students will attribute their job search “wins” to successful networking.
- More than 80% of jobs are never advertised, so the “hidden” job market is rich with opportunity.
- Interviewing is a multi-stage process – getting the slot is just the beginning.
- Some companies may take months to get back to you so you want to have a post-interview strategy.
Networking is about information gathering – not about asking for the job now, but about learning and making connections. Networking is a core skill that you’ll need throughout your business careers, in much the same way that negotiating or communicating are core skills.
Networking can lead to incredible results. You can
- Learn about new industries
- Obtain a position that fits your personal interests
- Make contacts to help you get that dream job post-Sloan (and beyond)
How to Network:
- Identify your goal
- Create a target company list
- Create a contact list
- Make the contacts
- Have the conversations
- Follow up
Types of Networks:
There are many kinds of networks. You should build your network from a number of contact sources. You may have some already that you didn’t realize!
- Contacts – People you know directly (former colleagues, Sloanies you know, professors, friends)
- Connections – People who you don’t know directly, but are connected with either through mutual contacts or shared affiliation who know your direct contacts (former colleagues of fellow Sloanies, friends of friends, Sloanies that you don’t know, MIT alumni, people who have worked at your former company, people you belong to an organization with, someone who works with your basketball team)
Types of Informational Interviews:
An informational interview is not an actual job interview. It is a purposeful discussion with another person about your career and how it relates to a job function, company, or an industry. It is an excellent way to gather information and make new contacts. When executed correctly, it can lead to job interviews. The goal of an informational interview can be one of the following:
- To establish rapport and be remembered favorably
- To give and receive information about your skills, career objectives, and accomplishments
- To get advice and suggestions on the job market, industry, and your presentation
- To continue building your network
People like to give advice and talk about themselves. Most people prefer to be approached gradually and generally dislike being put under pressure. Remember the purpose of these meetings is not to ask for a job. However, it is appropriate to voice that you are looking for a position.