University of Wisconsin–Madison

Networking Your Way to Success

Networking has many benefits. No matter your year in school or desired career path, spending time building your network will always be a good use of your time. One of the best ways to build  your network and tap into the hidden job market is through informational interviewing. Informational interviewing can help you learn whether a specific career is a good fit for your interests, skills, experiences, and personality.

  • Learn about career options and define your career goals.
  • Learn about the realities of a specific career. You may find that your dream career is not the best fit for you and that something else is a better fit.
  • Determine how your skills match those required for a position.
  • Identify skills and experience you may lack.
  • Make connections at companies that may lead to job opportunities. Many companies do not advertise open positions but rely on referrals from current employees.
  • Discover available positions that are not publicly advertised. About 60-80% of positions are never advertised.
  • Get advice and learn about career opportunities.
  • Gain experience interacting with professionals.
  • Set yourself apart from the other candidates. Many people neglect this very important part of the job search.
  • Alumni
  • Family members
  • Family friends
  • Colleagues or friends
  • Friends of friends
  • Professionals at companies where you want to work
  • Professionals working in the industry you want to learn about
  • LinkedIn and networking events hosted by the Economics Career Development Office are excellent places to identify and establish contacts.
  • Attend industry events to meet contacts in your chosen field.
  • Use social media to reach out to potential contacts and companies. Many companies use Twitter accounts and Facebook pages specifically for career related information.
  • Do your research before you make contact–on the individual and the industry in which she or he is employed.
  • Refer to guidelines on how to reach out to contacts professionally.
  • Request 20-30 minutes to meet with your contact in person, or by phone. After you have established a relationship, maintain it. Be sure to send a “thank you” email after you meet and follow up with your contacts periodically.
  • Prepare a list of questions in advance.
  • Ask questions about the company and positions you may want to pursue in the industry.
  • Ask questions about the skills needed to be successful.
  • Ask for referrals to other professionals that might provide valuable information and advice.
  • Ask the contact to review your resume and provide feedback.
  • Do not ask for a job.

IMPORTANT REMINDER: Always thank your contacts for their time and advice. Send a follow-up email message to show your appreciation and solidify your connection further.

LinkedIn is the leading online professional network. It can:

  • Connect you with classmates, faculty, and family professionally
  • Help you find new opportunities for internships and full-time positions
  • Help you manage your professional reputation online
  • Connect you with other economics students and alumni by joining the UW-Madison Economics Group. As a member of this group, you can learn about internships other economics majors have done, locate new contacts for informational interviews, learn about career paths other economics majors have pursued, and post career-related questions to the group.