Author: mrualumni (Page 2 of 2)

The truth about “NETWORKING”

The word ‘networking’ gets loosely thrown around at recruitment events, employment classes  and professional business functions – which could lead to the view that everyone has become an expert in networking. But the actual truth is that there is an art to effective networking. It’s not just something that you should do, but a key skill set that all professionals should have in their repertoire.

A common misconception is that networking is all about calling or meeting with strangers when you need a job. We think it’s collecting lots of business cards, that truthfully, we do nothing with afterwards!  In reality, most of us merely scratch the surface of networking.

By definition, a network is an extended group of people with similar interests or concerns who interact and remain in informal contact for mutual assistance or support. Many people use networking as a means to build a database that will add value to their business or service, or to try and find a way into a company for employment purposes. To gain the full benefit of networking there should be benefits or mutual assistance between both parties.

It’s a well known fact that we like to do business with who we know!

According to a study released by Connect Canada, “Networking, whether direct or indirect, was credited in providing over 61 per cent of new jobs and clients obtained of those surveyed. These results show that most organizations and educators are now including networking in their curriculum and their programming.”  Further, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “70 per cent of all jobs are found through networking.” This statistic takes into account the number of jobs that are available but never posted (internal hires), as well as positions filled by someone the employer knew. The Canadian job market is no different in this practice.

The key is to foster professional relationships that have mutual benefits for those involved in the network – even if you are in search of a new job or a new client base!

Are you networking effectively? Try this quiz and see where you are at!

I have developed a brief introduction to clearly and concisely describe my professional interests
and goals in 15 to 30 seconds that can be used in a casual setting, on the phone or to focus
a conversation.
Y / N


I have a process for keeping my professional contacts database up to date including current contact
information, last contacted, common topics of interest, areas of expertise, people referred and contact history.
Y / N


I have identified individuals I want to connect with regularly to keep them informed of my career
development and others I will connect with occasionally.
Y / N


I have identified organizations and associations which are relevant to my career interests
and have a plan for volunteering and attending a minimum number of functions this year.
Y / N


I have built an hour a week into my schedule to stay in contact with my network members.


Y / N


I have a specific goal for each networking event such as the type of people I’d like to make contact
with or the number of follow-up meetings I will finalize.
Y / N


Too many nos? That’s the reality for most of us! Here are some tips for turning those nos to yeses.

Practical steps for effective networking


Networking isn’t something that needs to take a lot of additional time. It can be done by phone, e-mail, online or in person. There are four broad types of professional networking.

  • Informal Networking: Everyday interactions, community, volunteer and personal activities can be used for informal networking. This is the easiest way to begin a professional network. Develop a script describing your professional interests clearly and concisely and asking a clear question to open conversations on ‘professional’ topics with people you know.
  • Formal Professional Activities/Events: In every field there are organizations, meetings, conferences, committees, events and trade shows. If you are a new member or not yet a member, volunteer to help out at such events. This provides opportunities to meet and talk to professionals of all stages working in multiple settings. A great place to start is getting in touch with the Mount Royal University Alumni Association.
  • Arranged Networking Appointments: While much networking can be done through events, calls and e-mails, it is worthwhile to arrange occasional one-to-one face time to really connect. Be aware and considerate of busy times when arranging appointments, lunch or coffee.
  • Social Media Networking: It is becoming increasingly valuable to develop and maintain a strong professional online and social media presence. Websites such as LinkedIn, including the Mount Royal University Alumni LinkedIn Group, provide great opportunities to grow your professional network. Each social media site has its own etiquette but when in doubt, use what would be your best professional in-person behavior as a guide. Remember, nothing is as personal as ‘face-to-face’ interaction. Be aware that information on  social sites such as Facebook and Twitter may be seen by potential employers/colleagues. Ensure these reinforce your professional image rather than negate it.
  • Practice. Talk to friends, people you work with, club members or the person who regularly sits with you on the bus about what they do and what you enjoy doing right now. People in all businesses and those not recruiting have information, resources and contacts, too. Consider everyone as a valuable potential network member to explore.
  • Make a list of people you already have a connection with: current/former co-workers, relatives, friends, neighbors, instructors and people from volunteer, community and religious activities. Identify five people from your current network you would like to consider as part of your professional network.
  • Develop specific strategies to prioritize building ties and be a dependable resource. Monitor your activities and the growth of your professional contacts.
  • You do not have to know exactly what you want to do to start to network. Seek information from friends of friends. This is easy and the most common way professionals network every day. Before calling, do some research on their company, position and questions you’d like answered to provide a solid starting point to put both you and your contact at ease.
  • These are just a few examples. Don’t expect contacts to remember you or be part of your network if you only contact them once or twice. Occasionally relationships develop quickly; most take longer. To develop professionally rewarding relationships, build goodwill through multiple contacts.

Networks are important to people in positions of responsibility who don’t like to take risks when they do not have to. An unfamiliar worker can be a risk, so employers often hire people they have met through their professional networks. For job seekers, knowing about a group, department or organization ‘from the inside’ can help you identify hidden ‘unadvertised’ opportunities, and target positions that best align with your qualifications and experience.

  • Let your established network contacts know you are looking for new opportunities and would appreciate leads or contacts. Update them on your search efforts.
  • Make it easy to help. Ask for advice, suggestions, leads or industry feedback on your resume rather than if they know of jobs.
  • Email a thank you and tell them about results from leads or suggestions they provided.
  • If you are interested in a particular company or department, ask established contacts if they are able to provide you with an introduction.
  • Ask contacts you have worked on projects with if they would serve as one of your references.
These steps are just a starting point! Below are some additional resources and information links.

For more information on effective online networking, check out our next post coming in July!

Blog content adapted by: David Babaganov, marketing assistant, and Patsy Valenzuela, Career Services.

Original content: Career Services Focus Tip Sheet: “Networking” written by Elaine Balych, career education/career development coordinator

Mount Royal Career Services offers services to graduates of Mount Royal University credit certificates, diplomas, bachelor degrees and applied degrees.

There are still jobs out there!

Despite the recent challenges in Alberta and the fear of ongoing job loss, there are still plenty of job opportunities out there. At Mount Royal University’s Career and Recruitment Fair on March 9, 83 exhibitors were collectively offering more than 1200 job vacancies in multiple industries. That being said, there is also more competition and it is true that there are fewer opportunities in some industries. In order to gain a competitive edge in this challenging job market, be proactive and have a plan. Creating an effective job search plan is your first step towards a successful job search. Even if you are currently employed, knowing what an effective job search plan entails can set you up for future success.

Big picture, there are two main things to consider before taking any steps:

  • Know what you are looking for:  Before even starting your job search, you need to understand your skills and interests and know what type and level of work you are looking for. One of the keys to a successful job search is knowing what makes you a unique candidate, knowing what qualifies you for the position you want and communicating this effectively to the ‘right’ prospective employer.
  • Be proactive and have a plan: In some industries you will not see many ‘job postings’. You need to know how and when different industries “hire” their top talent. Researching employers, figuring out how to make contact with them and preparing yourself can seem daunting, but if you break it out into small steps it’s much more doable and you can measure your successes as you go.

Steps for job searching in a competitive economy:

1)  Network, Network, Network 

Take inventory of the people you know, connections you’ve made, and future connections you would like to make. Consider doing a mind map that lists all of your contacts including those met through volunteering, social clubs, associations, special projects, job fairs, school events and employment. Begin to network at every opportunity that arises; this will help connect you to prospective employers and future employment opportunities. Talk to our team about the Calgary Connector Program for recent graduates that helps under or unemployed alumni connect with employers in their field of study. Visit the Career Services events page for weekly updates on upcoming networking fairs and events. Also, think about joining an Alumni Group and attending alumni events to meet other alumni from your program or industry.

  • Spring clean your social networks: Maintaining a professional presence on ALL social media is vitally important. It doesn’t matter if your profile is set to private, you need to assume the image you are portraying on any social media is open for public display and potential scrutiny of future employers. Remove any images that could cause embarrassment or cost you a job offer if viewed by future employers. Use social media to build a better professional network, trace down contacts and job leads. Our ONLINE PRESENCE TIP SHEET is a valuable resource with step by step instructions on how to use your online presence to enhance your professional job search plan.
  • Create personalized business cards: Personal business cards are a great way to pass on information about yourself when you first meet someone. Include your basic contact information, a few of the primary qualifications you can offer, and links to any sites you have created for yourself, such as a digital portfolio.
  • Access the hidden job market: While you should apply to posted jobs with tailored resumes and cover letters, experts agree that many jobs are not posted.  You need to access this hidden job market! Learn how to network and build relationships with professionals in your field. Connect with people that have similar roles to yours but that work in other fields or industries.
2) Customize your Job Search

Be clear and intentional when applying for positions. You should clearly know and be able to articulate both verbally and in writing why you are well qualified for the position at hand.

  • Customize your resumes and cover letters: Customizing your marketing materials will go a long way in helping you stand out. Do not adopt a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to developing your marketing materials. Tailor each resume and cover letter to the particular opportunity you want. Clearly specify how your experience and education connect to the position. Try to obtain the name of the hiring manager to personalize your cover letter. Ensure your materials provide specific proof points of why you are a good candidate for the job you are applying for.
  • Put your experience to work:  Don’t short change yourself. Find the value gained from all your experiences. Look at your volunteering, internships, work, committees and memberships, education and academic projects. Take stock of the transferable job related skills you acquired from these experiences and include them in your resume and share specific results achieved during interviews.
  • Fill in the gaps:  If you are aiming for positions that have experience or education you do not currently have identify HOW you can acquire those skill sets. Assess what jobs you are currently well qualified for, and what it would take to get you to that next level. Don’t apply for positions that far exceed your current experience, but rather work towards those opportunities by having a clear and strategic plan over time.
3) Make a Plan

Looking for a new job is a full-time job! Take some time to identify where you are today, and where you want to be in one month, six months, and one year.

  • Set goals: Goal setting includes writing out a plan of action, including what you want to achieve by when. Your plan should be specific, measurable and realistic. If you are not where you hoped to be at your check-in point, don’t get discouraged. Remember, the best plans are always in transition. Share your action plan with someone you trust, a mentor or coach perhaps, someone who will hold you accountable.
  • Keep an open mind:  Attitude can make or break an opportunity. Be prepared to look outside the box, and assess how this current opportunity could impact your future. Some companies may offer all sorts of great incentives, unique learning experience, or opportunities to advance. Know what is important to you before you attend the interview, as this will give you the upper-hand when it comes time to negotiate your value.
  • Prepare for formal and informal interviews: Make a great first impression! For formal interviews, do your research on the company, dress for success, practice your handshake. Make certain you can support the claims made in your resume and show proof of your competencies. Interviews can be stressful. Preparation is the key, therefore, practice, practice, and more practice.  Informal interviews happen all the time. You never know when a chance encounter may lead to a real opportunity. Be prepared to share who you are, what you have to offer in a professional context and what you see yourself doing. These one to two minute elevator speeches are key.
  • Get started: Read more about each topic covered above in our career and employment tip sheets. You can also begin by visiting your Career Services Centre or using free Alberta Government services to get professional assistance in leveraging your career. Services may include professional critiques of your marketing materials, interview preparation, access to job banks, job search assistance, labor market research and more.  Get started by creating your own custom job search plan today


Article written by: Patsy Valenzuela, Career Services supervisor, Mount Royal University. BLOG content adopted by David Babaganov, marketing and communications assistant. 

Mount Royal Career Services offers services to graduates of Mount Royal University credit certificates, diplomas, bachelor degrees and applied degrees.

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