Connect: Networking Etiquette/Resources

Know your purpose: you waste your contacts’ time when you do not know what you want to do, where you want to work, skills you want to use, etc. If you are just beginning to explore, do some initial career research on your own using The Salisbury Center’s resources. Then do some informational interviews to gather more information. Try to have a good sense of general areas of interest and skills. The more specific you can be, the more helpful your contacts can be!

Do your homework: Do not ask your contacts questions that could easily be answered by doing basic research online or in a career library. You will impress your contacts by knowing about your field of interest, your contacts’ organizations, etc. Also, use professional associations websites and other sources to remain up to date on trends and industry news.

Don’t act desperate: Contacts are much more willing to help and refer someone who is confident and capable. Stay positive and upbeat. Smile, maintain eye contact, have fun!

Listen: When a contact is offering advice, listen attentively. Do not monopolize the conversation, and do not rush through it. When you write your thank you message, include something you learned from the conversation that will show you listened.

Respect your contacts’ time: Do not drop in uninvited, and if you call always ask if it is a good time to talk. Make the conversation brief and to the point. Do not share your life story, and remain aware of time zones. With an initial conversation, be patient with making your pitch. You may need to start with more casual conversation, and listen for the right cues to “market yourself.”

Ask for help in small doses: Do not burden your contact right off the bat with requests for additional contacts, job advice, etc. Ask more questions than favors. If offered referrals to additional contacts, it is important to follow-up right away! Doing so will demonstrate professionalism and seriousness. Be sure you have completed all you were asked to do by a contact before you contact them again for additional assistance.

Get permission: Before using any contact’s name to approach another contact, make sure you have permission. Tell prospective contacts how you got their information. Honor any requests for confidentiality. Do not attribute information to a contact or other source without reflecting on whether the disclosure will compromise the person.

Be careful with use of the word networking: Unless you are attending an event earmarked for the purpose, it is best to consider what you are doing as making connections, building relationships, and seeking advice. No need to label it in conversations with contacts!

Do not be pushy and aggressive: Be sensitive to just how much a contact is willing or able to do for you, and do not push them beyond their limits. Be persistent but not annoying. In a majority of cases, you should not ask for a job or internship.

Never criticize anything or anyone: You are making a first impression. If you are seen as negative and gossipy, that impression will stick! You never know who they know, or how they will react to a comment about their role or organization. Keep your conversation positive.

Remember that it’s a two-way street: Reciprocity is the most important aspect of networking etiquette. Try to learn ways that you can help your contacts and offer that help whenever possible. This is especially difficult for college-age students who may not feel they have much to give. But, even offering your own connections or your talents in some regard could be enough to let your contact know that you are not just a “taker.”

Follow Up: Always send a thank you note after meeting with a contact and follow-up promptly on referrals and advice. Always make sure to:

  • Create a system to organize your contacts
  • Keep contacts informed of your progress when it makes sense
  • Follow advice and share the results with those who offered
  • Let your contacts know when you have landed a position and thank those who helped you along the way.

Networking Resources

Sample Networking Email
Informational Interview Questions
Career Network
How to build a professional student LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn Etiquette for students and Recent Grads

Networking Programs

Professional in Residence Speakers Series
Career Trek Programs
Job Shadow/Informational Interview Program

(Source: St. Olaf Piper Center for Vocation and Career-

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