Networking and Informational Interviews

Networking is the process of discovering and utilizing connections between people. These network connections can be as informal as talking to your family and friends, or as formal as attending a career event with prospective employers.

Networking is often based on gathering information. This could be information about a certain field, organization, career path, or developing knowledge about a skill. Effective networking can create lasting relationships, provide information and advice, and may even lead to a future internship or job opportunity.

Why Network?

Networking can help you find a job:

  • 80% of jobs are found through networking
  • 94% of successful job hunters claimed networking made all the difference
  • 63.4% of all workers use informal job-finding methods

How to Network

  1. Identify Your Networks. Making a list of people you know will help you to realize you may already have a strong foundation for your network.

    School

    Work / Internships

    Family / Friends

    Activities / Hobbies

    Other

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  2. Expand Your List. Identify others you have met inside and outside MIT or methods for how to meet new people who may have similar interests or expertise. Below are some events/opportunities to do so:
    At MIT Outside MIT
    Company presentations Professional associations/conferences
    Career Fairs Local/regional career fairs and events
    Alumni Association’s ICAN Network Community groups
    Special MIT events: Residence halls, living group, and student group events Online groups: LinkedIn, Doostang, Facebook, listservs, newsgroups
  3. Assess Your Goals. What are you hoping to get out of your networking experience? Understanding your intentions can clarify for you who would be most beneficial to connect with.
  4. Create Your Elevator Pitch. Develop a 30-second script you can use to introduce yourself to people. Repeat it until you're comfortable because you will need to use it at a moment’s notice. You may want several versions to use depending on the audience.
  5. Make Contact. An informational interview is a meeting where a job seeker asks for advice rather than employment. The job seeker gathers information on the field, finds employment leads, and expands his or her professional network. Basically, introduce yourself, ask questions, obtain referrals, and close. This helpful handout addresses each stage of the informational interview process--reaching out, preparation, conducting the interview, follow up, and evaluation.
  6. Follow Up. Be sure to follow up with an email or letter thanking the person for his/her time. This professional courtesy goes a long way.
  7. Repeat.There's no limit to the number of individuals you can reach out to and learn from. Creating genuine relationships through networking is a lifelong practice, so master your techniques and go explore.