It is estimated that 75% of people land their jobs through networking. Employers fill positions with people they know or are referred by colleagues.

What is Networking?

Networking involves building a relationship with anyone who might be in a position to support you in your career development. They can provide you with insight, advice, and referrals and you can offer to support them with any needs that they might have.

Networking is a mutual relationship. The people with who you meet might want to employ your resources one day or not. Even if you don’t end up working for this person, they can be a great resource and colleague as you continue to grow and advance in your career.

The Informational Interview

An integral part of networking is the informational interview. This is not a job interview. The informational interview is a way to get to know more about an industry, a particular job or advice on career success. 

How to start:

  • Find someone in your career field or in an area you would like to explore. It’s ok to ask someone you know if they can recommend a person you can speak with regarding their career. Faculty, staff, and peers are also great resources to help you identify interviewees.
  • Contact that person and ask if you can meet with them for 20 minutes. Find out if it would be best to talk in person, on the phone. Email can be an option, but try to have that be the last resort. You will have a greater dialogue and discussion in person or over the phone.
  • Do your research. Use Handshake, Google and LinkedIn. The more you know about your contact's position and organization the more you will be able to develop questions that go beyond what you can find online.
  • Prepare questions in advance. Make sure to use the time wisely and determine your goals for the interview.
  • Never ask for a job. This is one of the most important rules of networking. Ask only for information. If the person you are interviewing knows of a job, and you have made a good impression, they are likely to tell you about the position without you needing to ask. However, never assume that will be a result of the informational interview.
  • Take notes and actively listen to the conversation. You will want to remember what you learned so you can apply it to your career and continue to build the relationship with that individual.
  • Be at your best. Specifically, that means – be on time, be present and engaged in the conversation, and be respectful. Follow-up with a thank you note. Let the person know that you appreciate their time and what you learned from them in the experience. Follow-up is very important.

Informational Interview Example Questions

Career Questions

  • How did you get into this field?
  • What kind of individual is best suited for this kind of position? What skills are important? What type of personality is well suited?
  • What do you like most/least about your job?
  • What are the various jobs available in this field?
  • If you were in my shoes, what would you be doing over the next ____ years to best position myself by graduation?
  • Will my education prepare me for a job in this field? If not, how can I improve my candidacy?
  • What do you do on a typical workday?
  • What is the typical entry-level salary in this field?

Job Search Questions

  • How did you go about finding your job?
  • What strategies would you recommend for getting a job in your field? With your company?
  • What skills are the most important for your position? (note: these can then be highlighted during the job search, on your resume, and in an interview).
  • Would you mind looking at my resume and letting me know your thoughts?
  • Who else should I be talking to? May I use your name when contacting them?

LinkedIn FOR Westminster students

A key component of successful networking is an effective use of LinkedIn. By learning to use the LinkedIn's Alumni Tool you will have access to the 12,000 members of the Westminster College community, including the names of those who have indicated in their profiles that they are currently at, graduated from, or somehow associated with the college. When selecting the alumni tool, if Westminster College does not appear immediately, find it by clicking on Change University on the right side of the page.

Here you can search for fellow Griffins by where they work or have worked, where they live, and what they studied in college. You can research the career paths of how alumni got to their current positons or send an invitation to connect with whom you would like to do an informational interview. See the Alumni Tool tips.

While not everyone chooses to make their profiles readily available you will be able to see a number from the Westminster community. Try to connect with those from whom you can learn. Before sending an invitation to connect you will want to create or update your LinkedIn profile so that another person will see the professional value of accepting your request. Linked for Students provides tip sheets and short videos on how to get the most benefit from your LinkedIn profile.