Some networking is spontaneous and unplanned. You simply need to adopt the mind set to take advantage of any serendipitous opportunities you encounter when you are in job search/research mode. Ask questions, tell people what you are interested in, collect contact information, and schedule future meeting times if appropriate.
Other networking is much more strategic. You can start by making lists of people you know. (See What kind of people can I approach to be in my network?) Most people can create an initial list of at least 25 to 100 people. Don't forget that Otterbein alumni can be great resources as well; contact the CCP for names in your field of interest.
Before you begin contacting people, be sure of your goal. Your goal may be to solicit information about a career field or a specialization within that field, or to learn about a particular organization. This type of information gathering is usually called an "information interview." Decide who might be able to help you meet your goals best and contact them in a systematic way. You can phone or e-mail them, or you may seek them out in person. Develop a short "script" to introduce yourself and become familiar with this script so you can communicate it easily and concisely whenever needed. Also develop lists of questions you want to ask. Sample introductory scripts and information interview questions can be found in the CCP.
Sample introduction For students:
"Hi, Mr. Jones. My name is Jane Smith and I am a classmate of your son. He suggested that I give you a call."
"I am considering health administration as a career and I'm trying to learn more about the field and the type of opportunities that are available. Doug told me you work for Ohio Health and have a lot of experience in the area of hospital marketing."
"I'd like to sit down with you and talk at your convenience to get your advice. Would you be willing to talk with me?" For alumni:
"Hi, Mr. Jones. My name is Jane Smith and I am a friend of Frank Baker. He suggested that I give you a call."
“I am thinking about a career change to health administration and am researching the field to learn about the type of opportunities that are available. Frank told me you work for Ohio Health and have a lot of experience in the area of hospital marketing."
Caution: Be prepared to ask your questions when you call; they may want to talk to you immediately on the phone. More detailed information about information interviewing is available on the Interviewing section of this site.
Another goal may be to solicit help in finding a job. If this is your goal, make sure to present yourself well from the start. Begin by talking to friends, acquaintances, relatives and former colleagues. Tell them you are looking for a job and need their help. Be as clear as possible about what you are looking for and what skills and qualifications you have. Ask them for job leads, for someone else who might have job leads, or someone who knows someone who might have job leads. Sometimes you can simply ask if they know someone who knows a lot of people. Contact these referrals and ask the same questions.
For each original contact, you can potentially extend your network of acquaintances by dozens of people. Eventually, one of these people will hire you or refer you to someone who will. If used thoroughly, networking may be the only job search technique you'll ever need.