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Networking Etiquette: How to Successfully Pull Some Strings  February 17 2011 08:45:00 AM

Although social networking enables us to connect with virtual strangers, we cannot forget the value of our real-life relationships with family, friends, and acquaintances! Many students and job seekers feel awkward or uncomfortable approaching someone they know with questions about job opportunities and general career advice. When done correctly, balancing personal and professional contacts can be extremely advantageous!

In an article for Her Campus, Gennifer Delman has five simple tips for transforming your personal relationships into career-building connections.

Nicholas Cage. Amanda Hearst. Dylan Lauren. Kate Hudson. What do all of these celebrities have in common? They’ve used their family connections to land top jobs in the industry of their choice. Now, you may not be the heiress of a mega-corporation, but almost everyone has a basic network composed of friends, family, school, and organizations that can ultimately help you land an internship or job after graduation. We’ve shared how to network with professionals, but what about people you already know or may know through a few degrees of separation?

Here, HC lists five tips on proper networking etiquette with folks in your personal network. Read on!

1. Reach Out via E-Mail
According to Can I Wear My Nose Ring to the Interview? author and resume expert at the Columbia Publishing Course in New York, Ellen Gordon Reeves, 80 percent of “all jobs fall into a ‘hidden job market’ — an area in which jobs are not publicly advertised and are filled by word of mouth.” This is where reaching out to family and friends is increasingly essential. Don’t feel badly if a parent or sibling lands you an interview — it’s how the world works! E-mail is a non-invasive method of contacting someone, so spend some time crafting a basic professional template. Be very specific as you communicate your focus; you want to ensure that the person you’re contacting is clear on what you’re asking for.

2. Not Every Connection is a Professional Connection
Writer and entrepreneur G.L. Hoffman explains this in a July 2010 article for US News & World Report. “Don’t assume personal friendship transfers to a professional relationship,” he advises. “Just because you play softball with someone does not mean he can find you a job at his company or properly present you and your skills to the right person.” This applies to anyone in your life, from peers in your major to your friends’ parents. To avoid placing them in an awkward position, make sure you ask if they feel comfortable suggesting any contacts for an “in” at a certain company. Asking, rather than demanding or pressuring someone, is key here.

This is the same if someone is trying to ask you for a connection in a particular industry. Don’t feel obligated to reveal anything unless you’re comfortable and trust this person’s capabilities as a worker. Explain to them that there is a separation between social and professional life and you’d rather keep this separation present.

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