When heading toward your dream company, you need to pass two intersections: one that will determine the direction of your career/ industry and the other inquiring your networking strategy. Since you already have a dream company in mind, you have successfully turned the “right” way at the first intersection toward your dream career. Now, you’re heading toward the unfamiliar networking intersection. It would help if you had a road map to help you make the choice…
Before addressing the networking paths, I bet you’re wondering why there is a networking intersection in the first place. Good question. The answer is simple; to get your foot inside the door. Networking is the most effective way to obtain an opportunity to work for your dream company because it allows you to meet the right people to make it happen. Often, when I hear people say they finally “found their dream company”, they usually haven’t “found a dream plan” to make the dream come true. That’s why it’s just as important to have a dream networking strategy along with the dream company.
Enough with the explanation; where’s the map? Well, you’re in luck. Finally, below is a road map of the general five paths you will face at the intersection. Which one will you choose?
Path #1: Company Websites
Companies pack a ton of information into their website. Whether it is new product FAQs or mission statements, each info piece helps prospective employees discover what it takes to work at the company. What people don’t know is that company websites are a great first step toward company networking. Websites are meant to display the “what,” “when,” and “where” for their respectful company, which include (but not limited to) company tours, event sponsorship and participation, and company displays. Additionally, they provide recruiter/ representative contacts. Using the accumulated information as a guide, attend those events and contact those representatives to express your interest in the company. Exposing your name within company functions will show the company that you are a serious candidate and should definitely be considered for future employment.
Path #2: Career Fairs
Boilermakers have an advantage when it comes to career fairs due to heavy company participation. Career fairs offer ample opportunity to network with company recruiters and representatives face-to-face. The face-to-face aspect is important since it is easier to remember a face than it is and email or a name alone. Not only are career fairs designed for networking purposes, but also for landing job offers. Usually, companies have a clear motive when they arrive at a fair; they are looking for a select number of candidates with a distinct type of skills. Therefore, this route serves as the “most accessible option” in terms of interviews. I would recommend to do your dream company a favor and convince them with your elevator speech that you are the dream candidate they are looking for. Either way, you should always leave a career fair on win-win terms. You would either walk out with an interview or a contact that will lead you to a future interview.
Path #3: Informational Interviews
Interviews can be stressful, especially the ones that could land you the full-time position or leadership role. The goals for those “persuasive” interviews are to convince both the interviewer and yourself of the perfect-fit you and the company share. However, I am not talking about the persuasive kind; you already know that you are the perfect fit in your dream company. Informational interviews are professional meetings with a company representative conducted by you. During the interview, you will be asking company-specific questions to learn more about the environment, people, and function of your ideal workplace. Don’t be afraid to ask for the representative’s contact info for additional questions after the interview. This exchange of info serves as a foot-in-the-door since you have introduced yourself to a “company insider.” But don’t worry about being greedy either! Take the initiative to ask for additional contacts whom can answer field-specific or role-specific questions. The more contacts you have inside the company, to more opportunity you have to get completely inside the door.
Path #4: Linked-In
If you want to take the innovative networking approach, then Linked-In is your best choice. This tool allows you to meet future co-workers on a professional level. All you need to do is send a personalized “link” request to the people you want to connect with. The key is personalized. If you only send a generic “join my network” request, then the person won’t know your real purpose for the connection. Let him or her know that you are interested in the company and want to learn about future opportunities. Most professionals are open to help proactive, motivated, future candidates. Once the person accepts your request, make sure to continually show that you’re interested in future opportunities at the company. Frequent communication is essential to growing your network, or else it will die quickly.
Path #5: Company-sponsored events
Most companies targeting college students promote themselves through organizational events. That’s great because you’re attending Purdue with over 900 student organizations, resulting in numerous opportunities to attend company-sponsored events and get to know the company. Generally, during the event’s festivities, the company representatives will have booth promoting available positions and company products. Here is your chance to express an interest. This small expression could easily turn into an interview, depending on your newly acquainted company contact. Yet, you won’t know the result if you don’t try. The same principle should be followed during formal events like sponsored charity dinners. Meet as many people as you can and see where they take you.
Each path is a great choice when attempting to network with representatives from your dream company. Generally, there isn’t a “right” or “wrong” path; however, there exists a “strategic” path. Depending on the company, each networking path has its pluses and minuses when it comes to effectiveness. However, if you accidently chose a less-effective path, that’s fine. Just retrace your steps and take another path at the intersection. You will know which path worked when you arrive at your first day in your dream company.