August 4, 2020

Networking at a Time of Social Distancing

By Anita DeCianni-Brown '12 & '15, Collegewide Career Development Coordinator

Take some time now to do some virtual networking which can help prepare you for your next steps. Explore three areas that can help with this process.

LinkedIn, LinkedIn, LinkedIn

If you haven’t paid much attention to your LinkedIn profile, now might be the time to update it! Do you include a photo? Is your Education and Employment section current? Are your skills reflective of your experience (professional and volunteer)? Once you have made your updates, take steps to build upon your current network. Reach out to colleagues both internal and external to your organization, friends, previous co-workers even people you are in classes with at SUNY Empire. This is not about reaching out to rack up as many connections as you can get – it is about building your network for people who can possibly speak on your behalf.

Become active and involved in LinkedIn groups. Getting involved in groups, especially during this time, gives you insight for the challenges facing the industry moving forward and allows you to be part of the conversation. Start a post by sharing an article, posing a question/comment/perspective or by engaging on someone else’s post.

Set up an Informational Interview

This is a good idea for students whether you are just starting with SUNY Empire, you are midway through your degree program or you are about to graduate. Connect with someone new through LinkedIn (the SUNY Empire community is a perfect place to start). Reach out to someone in your career path, industry of interest or employer of interest and ask if they would be willing to have a video informational interview meeting or phone conversation. These conversations are not meant for asking someone for a job; rather to find out information about what they do or their organization, which can be useful information for your professional development and job search. After your informational interview, don’t forget to send a thank you note to the person who took the time to share their expertise and advice.

Suggested Questions:

  • What are the educational requirements for someone in your position? Are there any certifications or training opportunities that you have or feel are beneficial to being in your role?
  • What would you say are the key skill and personal traits that someone must possess or build on in this career/industry?
  • Do you belong to any professional organizations? If so, which do you recommend?
  • What is a typical day, week, month and year like for you?
  • What are key words that you would recommend a job seeker include on their resume?
  • What bits of advice/steps would you recommend for someone wanting to enter into this career path/industry?
  • What do you feel is necessary for being successful in your career? In this organization? In this industry?
  • What are the biggest challenges in your role? In the industry? In your organization?
  • What do you like about the work you do? The organization you work for?
  • What technology is key in being successful in your role/industry?

Join Professional Organizations

Take advantage of your student status and join a professional organization at the student rate. Many organizations offer a student rate and then a regular membership rate. Always included in the membership are professional development opportunities, webinars and newsletters. This is an excellent way to keep up with industry trends, challenges, forecasts and sharing of best practices and ideas.

Anita DeCianni-Brown, ’12 & ‘15
Collegewide Career Development Coordinator, SUNY Empire State College


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