Why do I need to network?

Networking is a critical skill in today’s world but, often, it can feel uncomfortable reaching out to people that you don’t know and asking for help. One of the big advantages of studying at CMC is that you are surrounded by peers, alumni, parents, faculty and administrators who are all willing to be part of your network during your exploration and recruitment. 

You are far more likely to have successful outcomes if you learn to ask for help, whenever you are unsure of how to proceed. People in your network, who have more experience than you, are great resources to give you advice and guidance when you need it. 

You may believe that networking is like “using” someone, because you are taking from them without giving anything in return. The joy of being part of a network is that it is a two-way street. You may be asking for help and guidance now, but you may also be in a position, sometime in the future, to help that same person in a different way. So long as you are courteous, genuine and respectful, you are not “using” someone! 

What is Exploratory Networking?

This type of networking is ideal early in your collegiate life or when you are connecting with people in an industry that you do not know much about. When you contact a professional, professor, employer, recruiter or CMC alumnus as part of your exploratory networking, you are reaching out to ask for information or to learn about company culture or a career path. You are NOT asking for a job. The goal of informational interviewing is to either talk with them on the phone or to schedule an in-person meeting. Remember, as a new CMC student, you are not expected to know detailed information about industries, roles or career paths. Take advantage of this perception, ask lots of questions and explore!

The conversations are very general and consist of questions like:

  • How did your CMC education and experiences prepare you for a role in your field?
  • What are your day to day activities/responsibilities?
  • What do you like about your role?
  • How did you learn about opportunities in your field?
  • What are other organizations that provide this type of work?
  • How can I learn more about your field?

Exploratory networking exercises include:

  • Use LinkedIn to find 10 CMC alumni who are in roles that are completely unknown to you. Reach out to learn what they like about their role, how they found it and where they started their career.
  • Use the Alumni Career Contacts Directory to find alumni and parents in your field of interest to see if their career might be a fit for you. 
  • Utilize the Student Internship Database to connect with fellow students who have shared their internship experiences. 

What is Strategic Networking? 

Often, when students talk about networking, they are referring to strategic networking. This type of networking is focused on learning specific information that is hard to find via web-based research, and/or making connections that will advocate for a recent or pending application. For these reasons, strategic networking typically occurs later in your search activity. Statistically, networking is the most effective way to find a job or internship. Networking plays a critical role in filling 70 percent of jobs across the country.

As you search for networking contacts, keep these helpful tips in mind:

  • Share information, ideas, resources and contacts with others. Networking is a two-way process.
  • Know basic information about careers that interest you.
  • Keep a well-documented record of your contacts: how, when, details of the conversation and any follow-up necessary.

How do I start building my professional network?

  • Think of everyone you meet as a networking contact.

  • Connect with the CMC community - Members of Claremont McKenna College (and the greater 5C community) are an amazing resource community for guidance and experience development. Building relationships with fellow CMCers is an excellent way to expand your professional network in any stage of your career. Whether you are seeking to conduct an informational interview with a professional, research a specific company or explore a path to graduate school, turn to your alumni network as a rich source of information and opportunity. 

    • Utilize the Alumni and Parent Career Contacts Directory to connect with alumni and parents.

    • Utilize the CMC Internship Database and Handshake to connect with fellow students.

    • Talk with your professors!

    • Connect with the CMC Alumni Association on LinkedIn

  • Actively use LinkedIn as a resource to identify alumni, career paths and constituent groups; memorialize relationships by connecting with individuals you interact with on LinkedIn

  • Get involved with a student organization – many student organizations are chartered through national organizations. Getting involved with these groups could give you opportunities to meet people outside of your college.

  • Get to know your college professors and administrators – your professors and campus administrators are another great resource for you, but only if you seek them out.

  • Keep a well-documented record of your contacts – how, when, details of the conversation and any follow up as necessary.

How do I contact/make outreach to people in my network?

Informational Interviews

​Networking through email is a useful and effective way to reach out to busy professionals and alumni without being intrusive. However, as they are, in fact, busy professionals, it is important to craft a concise message to open the conversation. 

An informational interview is an informal discussion where one individual is looking to obtain information and advice (on careers, schools, industries, etc.) from another individual. An informational interview differs from a formal interview because the conversation is not about hiring or a specific opportunity; it covers a wide range of topics and is supposed to be purely informational in nature. 

An informational interview request is the first step in the process and is often done via email or LinkedIn. A resume is often attached to facilitate communication of skills and interests. Make sure the attachment is a PDF rather than a Word Document. Informational interviews are not to be taken lightly; they require thorough preparation, sincerity and focus. 

Insider's Tip! Often when sending out networking emails, students will cut and paste information about themselves. Although this technique is acceptable, it is riddled with risks, including grammar mistakes and different fonts/sizes/colors. Therefore, if you are using cut and paste, please be sure to carefully reread your email before it is sent and highlight all text to change the font size, color and typeface to ensure the contact receives a clean, professional message that is error-free. 

 Informational Review Request Email

Subject: Question from a CMC Student

Dear [Alumnus],

Hello from CMC! I’m a junior here, and I see from your CMC Alumni profile that you’re working as a record producer at EMI Records. One of the options I’m considering after graduation is working in the music industry, and I’m writing to see if you’d be willing to talk with me about your experience in the field. I’d enjoy the chance to hear advice you have for me, especially in looking for internships this summer. I’d be happy to drive to Los Angeles to meet and talk over coffee, or we could talk on the phone or email, whatever works best for you. Thanks so much for your time; I’m looking forward to connecting with you soon.


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