Building relationships (a.k.a. networking) is a crucial piece of the career development process. Not only will you learn more about specific career fields, but you'll build relationships with professionals. The majority of jobs that people get are through relationships.
Networking is not asking someone for a job or a recommendation; it is relationship building. Connect with people in the field that you are interested in, and simply talk to them about their experience and career journey.
When contacting a new person, don't put them on the defensive by asking them for a job or a recommendation. If you do that they will become an "Assessor," who will assess whether or not you are worth recommending. Instead, simply ask them to share their story. Let them talk about themselves rather than listen to you pitch your skills. That way you are building a relationship (an "Ally"), and they may even advocate for you.
Be intentional in your everyday conversations with people. Ask them questions such as, "Tell me your story…" Other ways to network include:
Who do you know? Think about your "sphere of influence," such as:
Start early! Don't wait until your senior year to begin building these relationships. We can help you be strategic in your networking; come see us today!