You’ve got the diploma and now you’re hoping to land your dream job long before those student loan payments start rolling in. (Don’t forget, that’s just six months!) Networking for the recent graduate, and job seekers in general, is an interesting challenge.

Consider these tips before you get started on your job hunt:

  • Define your networking goals. Let’s start by reviewing your personal goals – What is your dream job? Where do you see yourself in 10 years and how does an employment decision influence that? What experiences have you had that will help you to succeed in this career? It’s important to understand what you’re looking for and what your motivation and goals are moving forward. Whatever the case may be, take a minute to define your bigger picture goals.
  • Perfect your elevator speech. If you’re unfamiliar with the idea, an elevator speech is a brief, personal commercial you deliver to introduce yourself. In preparing your speech, be thoughtful, clear, and concise. In light of the goals you defined above, be sure to convey what your motivation is and how your experience will help you to be successful.
  • Design your business cards. And use them wisely! It may seem odd to have a personal business card, seeing as you don’t have a job yet. However, what better way to make an impression and give your potential employer a way to contact you. Besides, it’s easier than carrying around stacks of resumes and provides you with an opportunity to take the conversation to the next level at a later date.
  • Pick the right networking event. When deciding which networking events to attend, your status as job seeker is a huge factor. Your best bet in this scenario is to seek out industry-specific events. This way, you won’t have to siphon through the attendees as much to find the appropriate person. Be aware that the decision makers in terms of hiring may not be present, but connecting with people in a certain company can give you a sense of the work environment and help you to narrow down your choices.
  • Follow up! This is where the real work of networking begins. Networking without following up negates most of the effort you put into reaching your contacts. As a job seeker, be sure to seek out the companies you made initial connections with and determine what positions they have available and who the best contact person is to get your foot in the door. By working your newly developed leads and fostering relationships, the job opportunities will begin to find their way to you.

Happy hunting!

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