Network building & job search

Networking is one of the most valuable career development skills you can have, especially since an estimated 80% of all jobs are filled through networking — and many open positions are not advertised. So it is well worth your time to develop a wide-ranging network of professional contacts. Your contacts can help you explore your calling, get leads on jobs and internships, and get hired. Don’t underestimate the importance of a strong network!

Networking is more essential than ever in your internship and job search. 4 out of 5 jobs and internships are never posted online. They’re gotten through networking. We encourage you to take advantage of all the networking resources available to you including:

  • Demystifying Networking Videos
  • Networking Strategy Step-by-Step Guide
  • Sample Networking Emails
  • How to Make a Connection
  • How to Conduct Informational Interviews
Demystifying networking videos

Dysfunctional Belief: Networking is just hustling people – it’s slimy.

Reframe: Networking is just asking for directions.

The Networking Reframe

Networking is a great way to learn and explore professional opportunities. Many people worry that networking is fake or transactional, but when we understand it as asking for directions it's easier to see how it can be authentic and mutually-beneficial.

Watch on YouTube

The Two Types of Networking: Outbound and Inbound

As you begin networking, it's useful to have different strategies for connecting with people. This video outlines what we call Inbound and Outbound Networking.

Watch on YouTube

Designing Your Career: The Outsider Problem

The Outsider Problem is what many people experience as they begin searching for new jobs or try to change industries. This video gives context to frame the two most powerful tools in designing your career: Networking and Informational Interviewing.

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Designing Your Career: The Informational Interview

Informational interviewing is a powerful way to create new opportunities. This video covers the essential elements of informational interviewing to help you learn, look for work, or 'prototype' new experiences effectively.

Watch on YouTube

Networking strategy step-by-step guide

No ideas? Use the LinkedIn Alumni Tool to help and see where past grads work/have worked. (Search Seattle Pacific University, then click Alumni, and enter a search term for work that interests you.)


A screenshot of the LinkedIn Alumni tool

For help, search for the company on LinkedIn, then “People”.

A screenshot of the LinkedIn Alumni tool

  • Search company websites.
  • If you can’t get the email address, you can start by reaching out over LinkedIn
  • Reach out to 5 people at once to move faster, since not everyone will respond.
  • Research the person.
  • Prepare a short (about 1 min) intro with who you are, your background, and what interests you about their work.
  • Prepare questions in advance—see sample questions.

Sample questions (in this basic order)

  • Start by talking about them, end with you & what you want to leave the conversation with
    • How did you get into this field?
    • What do you like most about it?
    • What do you like least about it?
    • What skills are important for this job?
    • What advice do you have for someone starting out on this career path?
    • What’s the best way to find a job/internship in this industry?
    • What didn’t you know before you got into this industry that you wish someone had told you?
    • Is there anyone else you would recommend that I speak to?
    • Would you mind if I stay in touch periodically?
  • See more sample questions here

Sample thank you email after informational interview:

SUBJ: Thank you!

Dear [Name],

Thank you so much for speaking with me yesterday. I learned a lot, including [     ] and [    ]. It’s also given me new things to think about, like [    ]. I’m gaining a much better understanding of this field now, and really appreciate your time and you sharing your story with me.

[If applicable:] Thank you so much, too, for your willingness to stay in touch and offer to introduce me to [    ].

Again, many thanks! It was a huge help to speak with you!

[Your name]

Sample networking emails

If you’re a student:

SUBJ: Interest in speaking with you

Dear [Name],

I’m currently studying [Creative Writing] at Seattle Pacific University and interested in learning more about the [publishing] industry. I'm writing because I know you're [an editor for Sasquatch Books], and I really admire [Sasquatch's niche work with Pacific Northwest and West Coast authors]. If you have time, I was wondering if you’d be willing to share more about your experience there and elsewhere.

Would you possibly be willing to talk for 20 minutes over the phone or Zoom so I could hear more about your experience?

In the next 2 weeks, I’m available [Fridays all day, and Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays after 3].

Thank you very much for considering.

Sincerely,

[Your name]

 

If you’re an alum:

SUBJ: Interest in speaking with you

Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name,

I'm a fellow SPU alum and learned on [LinkedIn] that you're a [Data Scientist] for [Boeing], and before that worked as a [Planning Analyst] for [Expedia] and [Verizon]. I'm reaching out because I'm considering [Data Science] as a potential new career, and your range of experience really interests me. If you have time, I'd love the opportunity to get your insight on the field.

Would you by chance have 20 minutes to meet up for a short phone or Zoom chat?

If so, I could meet [any morning before noon] the next two weeks.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration. I hope to connect with you soon!

Best,

[Your name]

  • Can send 4 days after Email #1
  • Copy Email #1 under it

SUBJ: Interest in speaking with you

Hi [Name],

I hope your week is going well. I am very excited at the possibility of chatting with you briefly about your work.

I know you’re very busy and just wanted to ask: Could [next Weds or Fri after 3] possibly work for you for a 20-minute conversation?

Thank you very much again for your time and consideration.

Best,

[Your name]

  • Can send 2 days after Email #2
  • If you can’t get their email, you can also start with this

Hi [Name],

I'm a [junior computer science] major at SPU. I'm interested in [cloud gaming], and would love to learn more about your work at [Microsoft]. Would you be willing to have a 20-minute phone or Zoom conversation so I can hear more about your career path? Thanks for your time & consideration! [Your name]

If you're reaching out to someone you're not yet connected to on LinkedIn:

  1. Have a message like this ready in advance (note it's a 300-character limit).
  2. Click "Connect" on the person's profile.
  3. Click "Add a note".
  4. Paste in your message & click "Send".
  5. When the person responds to you, you should get a message in your LinkedIn Message Inbox and your email connected to your LinkedIn account.
  • Can send 3 days after LinkedIn Message
  • Attach your resume to this one as a PDF
  • At this point, move on and reach out to (up to 5) new people, and start the cycle over with Email #1

Hi [Name],

I know you’re very busy, and I hope we might be able to connect sometime in the future.  

In the meantime, I am still very interested in your work and your organization, so if any opportunities happen to come up at [COMPANY NAME], please keep me in mind or feel free to forward my attached resume to any colleagues.

Thank you very much again!

[Your name]

How to make a connection

Professional Networking: How To Add Value to Your Connections

One-to-one networking only works when both parties benefit. Follow these tips to avoid common networking faux pas and give your contacts something they want from the relationship.

Watch on YouTube

Connect with SPU Alumni

Connecting with SPU alumni and industry professionals can help clarify and define career interests in a variety of fields while making valuable connections.  Being part of the SPU community means you are already part of an amazing global network! 

Falcon Connect: New way for SPU students to easily connect with SPU alumni who want to help students in their career journey. Sign up to find alums to connect with who work in companies or industries of interest to you.