How to Utilize Your Network to Advance Your Career

Mar 30, 2022

How to Utilize Your Network to Advance Your Career



Jillian Keller

Senior Director of Postsecondary Success

By definition, the word “network” refers to a group or system of interconnected people or things. As an alum from Breakthrough Public Schools (BPS), your network includes former teachers and classmates from BPS. It also includes myself and the Beyond Breakthrough staff -- we exist to fully support you and we all have significant connections. If you are in high school, that network might extend to the athletic teams or extracurricular activities you took part in, or maybe co-workers if you took on a job. If you are a college student, your network has expanded even more to include anyone you have met or worked with, including professors, roommates, and colleagues. Chances are, you have a vast network of people you know, all of whom might be able to connect you – or know someone who could connect you to your next mentor or job opportunity.


The amazing thing about a network is it extends beyond the people you know directly. The term six degrees of separation applies to your network and can work to your advantage. Say you are on the cusp of graduating college and you are looking to score your first internship in the technology sector. Who might you know that could help? Even if you don’t have a direct connection, someone you know might. It could be your parent’s neighbor, the brother of an old friend, etc. Tapping your network to ask questions, seek advice, or request information about the company they might work for are all useful ways to advance your career search or get connected with the right people who could help.


Say Yes to Every Opportunity

The act of networking is also vital to advancing your career. When event opportunities present themselves, take advantage. Say yes! Reach outside your comfort zone and introduce yourself to new people. You never know how they might be able to help you make the right connection. Or, maybe they will be your new friend! It can never hurt to put yourself out there and meet new people.


Networking is an Art Form

Networking can be uncomfortable for the introverts out there but it does pay off. Say you attend an event at school and meet a friend of a friend who has an internship at a tech firm (remember -  for the purpose of this piece you are interested in the technology sector). You mention you are looking for something along the same lines and you exchange information. Follow up with an email saying great to meet you and I hope we can keep in touch. Going that extra mile might be the difference in hearing from that person a month later with an internship opportunity. 


Take Advantage of LinkedIn

This free online networking tool is the best way to connect to people online. After that event, search for that friend of a friend on LinkedIn and connect with them. Maybe you will discover you have several connections in common. LinkedIn is an easy way to stay connected in today’s digital world, and it is a great tool for finding out who within your network might be able to mentor or help you as you move along in your career. Start today by joining the Alumni Success LinkedIn Group.