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Don’t Think You Have Any Networking Contacts? Here’s How to Find Some.

Submitted by Lori Conlan December 20, 2021

For some people “networking” is an intimidating word. They say, “I don’t have any contacts and networking sounds scary.”  If you start by thinking about what careers you want to learn about and who you can reach out to who is working in those career areas, the process may feel less intimidating. Calling these interactions informational interviewing can take some of the stress out of learning about career options and developing new contacts.

Informational interviews are a chance for you to "sit down" with a professional in a brief meeting to learn about their career path, their current role, and any advice they may have for you. (Note that they are not the time to ask for a job.) Many fellows are surprised by the fact that many professionals are happy to meet with them to discuss their careers, especially over Zoom. The format of an informational interview can help both you and the person you interview to know what to expect, guiding your interaction and making it feel less awkward than unstructured networking. In my appointments with NIH fellows since 2008, I have found that even the most shy or introverted fellows can develop a robust network of contacts if they take the time and energy to work on this project. With the resources below, you can do it, too!

Here are some ways to get started:

Happy holidays and best wishes for productive informational interviewing and developing new contacts in the New Year!

Guest Blogger: Anne Kirchgessner, MSEd, LCPC: Career Counselor, OITE
Part of the “Voices of OITE” series.

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