One of the best things you can do for your career is to build a strong a network!

net-work-ing (verb): to cultivate people who can be helpful to one professionally, especially in finding employment or moving to a higher position.

Networking is easier than you think, and with practice, can become something that even the clearest of introverts can be good at. The purpose of networking is to grow your web of professionals in occupations or fields of interest in order to increase your knowledge of the position and company as well as your chances to get your foot in the door. Networking does not have to be "schmoozing", it is simply building relationships with people in your field to make sure that they know about you and what you would have to offer to their organization. If your network isn't aware of your interests and skills, how would they know to recommend you for an open position?

Begin by thinking about your immediate network: family, friends, colleagues, classmates, professors, etc.. Are any of these people directly involved in your field of interest? Do they know other people that could get you connected to professionals in your field of interest? Create a list of your immediate network with notes on how they could possibly assist you in the career exploration and job search process. Also, create a list of informational interview questions that you would like to ask them about their company and position, and a list of skills that you want to make sure to highlight. 

Then expand your network to people that you haven't met yet. Reach out to business owners in the local community (see Chamber of Commerce Business Directories below), get involved in professional associations and local clubs, and connect with professionals and OSU alumni on LinkedIn. You can also build relationships with OSU alumni and get tips about industries and employment opportunities through Flash Mentoring events online sponsored by the Alumni Association. Manage your contacts using the free online CRM Insightly, and use a program called Contactually to send you reminders for when you should follow-up with contacts resulting in stronger relationships.

Get out and meet people. Central Oregon has no shortage of networking events that offer you the opportunity to connect in person and practice your networking skills. The Career Development Center has negotiated a few FREE opportunities for students to get out there and build their professional networks. Tickets are available FCFS each month. Watch your OSU email box for availability!

Additional Local Networking Groups:

Additional Events: