August 18, 2021
When looking to improve your employment, grow your business, or just get to know more people to connect with, it’s important to create a group of professional contacts called a “network.” Throughout your career, your network will be a great resource to you, and you will be able to provide your help and friendship to them!
To start building your network, make a list of people, companies, and job openings you have found, as well as their contact information and your plans to work with them. It may be hard to create a list like this with the limited information you have right now, and that’s okay! Here are some tips for getting started.
Your friends and family
Connect with the people you already know! Every person you meet gained knowledge from their experiences, and you never know how the positive connections you make with them now will help you improve your employment later. They can also give advice to guide you to make informed decisions during that process.
Job-search or career development internet sites
Create a profile on a professional website or job board, such as LinkedIn, Indeed, Handshake1, or a similar website that is used often in your area and for your profession. Attach a resume, work samples, and other resources to your profile if you can! Try to find the people you work with, used to work with, or have connected with in real life and connect with them on these platforms.
Use your current social media accounts or create new professional accounts to connect with people. For example, many professions have Facebook groups where you can give and receive advice and find other people working in your field. Employers may even have “job” accounts where they post about openings at their companies.
Local job fairs, centers, and associations
Your community (including local schools and other associations) may host job fairs. The Church also has employment and self-reliance centers all over the world that can connect you to potential employers. They may even offer workshops and other guidance that can be personalized to your experience. Search for services near you.
Consider joining available local employee associations specific to your field, too! BYU-Pathway student Jugel Jumamoy from Lapu-Lapu City, Philippines, increased his network by attending an event of the People Management Association of the Philippines (PMAP). He said, “I met new human resources practitioners, and they are now part of my contacts!” Jugel was even elected to a leadership role at PMAP and joined another association to meet more people who can guide him on his career journey.
Contacting your contacts
Consider what you might say to connect with and learn from the people you are meeting. Share a bit about yourself and your goals, and ask about them too! It is important to be polite, without being too timid, and to ask good questions. Here are a few ideas of things you could say when interacting with your contacts:
“My name is [Name], and I’m a [Your Occupation] currently trying to further my education. I would love to learn more about your work and which skills you’ve used the most!”
“Can you tell me a bit about your path to this career?”
“What does an average workday look like for you?”
“Which skills have helped you the most in your position? How did you gain those skills?”
You can also reference this article on informational interviews for more advice on having meaningful conversations with your contacts.
Reaching out to professionals in your field can seem intimidating, but it will help you as you seek to improve your skills and your employment. And remember — these connections go both ways! Make sure you share information about yourself, develop a relationship, and are willing to help when those you’ve connected with reach out to you.
To learn more tips for your job search, see the other articles in this series about writing a resume/curriculum vitae, and watch for our next one about interviewing (coming soon)!
To learn, practice, and apply career development skills, we encourage students to actively participate in PC 102: Professional Skills and GS 170: Career Development. Aligned with the skills these courses teach, we hope this series can help you progress in your career and learn practical tips to improve your life. For more specific advice, please connect with people in your same area and desired profession.