Leveraging Your Connections to Get Ahead

Written by Jennifer Fantin, Recruitment and Admissions Assistant

Building connections during your time in Washington is one of the best ways to get ahead, and more important than meeting these people is staying in touch with them. Growing your professional network and leveraging those contacts down the road is a sure fire way to give you a leg up when job hunting.

“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” As overused as this line may be, it is extremely accurate. Here are a few tips that will help you maximize your networking opportunities this summer and maintain the relationships in the long term:

  • networkBe Proactive Introduce yourself. If there is a professional contact that you have an interest in getting to know better, ask them to grab a cup of coffee. Informational interviews have an unlimited upside. When you show interest in someone’s work, they are likely to be receptive.
  • Attend Outside Events Meet professionals outside of your office by attending outside events. DC offers countless free networking events throughout the summer that are open to the public. Many of these are catered specifically to the networking needs of interns and young professionals. Check out DC Linktank to see a calendar of upcoming seminars.
  • Do the Business Card Exchange- After meeting someone for the first time be sure to exchange contact information. If you do not have a business card an easy and professional way to provide someone with your contact information is through email. Many interns do not have business cards so do not be shy to ask for someone else’s and send your information later.
  • Follow up This is the most important part of networking. You can distinguish yourself by reaching out to a new contact and staying in touch after the initial meeting. Remind that person that you are interested in their career path, and be sure to mention something specific from your discussion to really grab their attention.
  • Use Email and LinkedIn- Make sure to touch base with contacts periodically to keep them informed of your professional progress and stay up to date on any changes in their careers. Sending an email and connecting on LinkedIn are excellent and professional ways to communicate with those in your network. Emails are quick and easy and LinkedIn allows you to create a detailed profile, complete with work experience and career goals.

The connections you make here can be the stepping stones to a future job so take full advantage. On average, 20% of job seekers are hired after applying to an advertised position whereas 80% are hired after applying with a personal referral. Keep these tips in mind, and meet everyone you can while here in DC!


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