Building Relationships

Whether you’re entering the workforce for the first time or switching jobs mid-career, cultivating a network of contacts will yield benefits throughout your career.

Networking begins with the people you already know and expands into an interrelated web of contacts by means of introduction to others. Informational interviews are an excellent way to build your network. Follow these guidelines, and read more in the Career Guide.

Initial Contact

  • Initiate contact by writing a short letter or email to introduce (or reintroduce) yourself.
  • Explain your purpose for wanting to meet briefly. See page 21 of the Career Guide for an example.
  • Close by saying you will call to set up an appointment.
  • Begin your follow-up call with an exchange of pleasantries.
  • Follow with a brief statement of why you want to meet.
  • Avoid talking business in your initial phone call. If possible, save it for the meeting.

When You Meet

During meetings, make an effort to get to know your new contacts and give them an opportunity to get to know you. One of the greatest compliments you can give another person is to let him or her know that you are listening to everything said.

More people have literally talked themselves out of a job or a sale by speaking instead of sitting back and actively listening. It takes real concentration to listen.

Take advantage of whatever you have in common. If you’re developing a relationship, take more time to establish your connection with the person.

When meeting and communicating with potential contacts:

  • Prepare Questions in Advance – Craft them to obtain information that will be helpful to you, and demonstrate that you are well-informed about their industry or company.
  • Find Out About Them – Ask questions that elicit information about how they got into their line of work, how their business is doing now, how they like their work.
  • Tell Accomplishment Stories – Tell short, interesting stories about your accomplishments, both in and out of the workplace. Use the S-T-A-R framework: Describe the situation, the task or action you took, and the result.
  • Gather Names – Ask if there are other people you can talk to who will broaden the scope of your research. Add these names to your master contact list and follow up on these new contacts, as appropriate.
  • Respect Their Time – Be on time and don’t stay longer than the requested or agreed-upon time frame.
  • Don’t Put Your Contact on the Spot – Tell everyone that you’re engaged in the job-search process, but don’t ask directly for a job.
  • Be a Pro – Dress professionally. Relax and be yourself.

Follow Up

  • Request a business card at the meeting.
  • After your meeting, within 24 hours, send a thank-you note. Remember, your reputation will be damaged if you don’t follow up.
  • Based on the prior meeting, plan to follow up and ask to call; confirm the best number to use
  • Do further research on the company to the extent you need to deepen or broaden the knowledge you gained from initial preparation and information exchanged during the meeting.
  • Set time aside for the follow-up call.
  • Plan for the call.
To meet with a career coach, schedule an appointment online, email wcc@olin.wustl.edu, call 314-935-5950, or stop by the WCC in Knight Hall 210.