Career Development Model

Maintaining Networks

Maintaining Networks

As a recent graduate, you may be fully immersed in an exciting new job or a rigorous graduate program. Some of you may still be navigating through the career search, looking for potential opportunities to start a career. One important thing to do, no matter which place you find yourself, is to maintain your professional network. Maintaining your professional network has multiple benefits:

  • Exploring opportunities for continuing education or career development
  • Keeping lines of communication open with those who may have helped to shape your career path or find a job
  • Having contacts for the future when you may need to change jobs or transition into a new career field

Maintaining your professional network isn’t difficult; it only requires that you make a conscious effort of preserving important professional relationships and remembering to establish new ones as you progress through your career. There are several different ways to maintain your network.

Keep Up with Prior Contacts

There is a good chance that you came into contact with many different people as a student. Roommates and their parents, professors, work and internship supervisors, alumni, and community members may have all crossed your path while at U.Va. These people may have helped you make a career decision or placed you into contact with a professional who offered you that first job. Even though you are now a young professional, you shouldn’t forget the people who may have helped you along the way. Placing a phone call or sending an email or handwritten note to these contacts periodically is an effective way to keep the lines of communication open and available. Let them know about your new job, your transition into the world of work, your adjustment to a new city, etc. – something to let them know that you haven’t forgotten them (and that you appreciate what they have done for you).

Using LinkedIn Effectively

Social media tools, like LinkedIn, are rapidly becoming a key tool in career development. One of the most important social media tools, LinkedIn, allows you to connect with other professionals, research companies, and learn about your career fields of interest. Our tip sheet below helps you understand how to get started with LinkedIn, and how to maximize your presence on LinkedIn if you’re already signed up with the service. If you have any questions about using LinkedIn, please contact us. Download handout: Using LinkedIn Effectively

Use UCAN to Make Additional Contacts

Did you use UCAN as a student? You can still use this feature as a recent graduate. This service will allow you to contact other U.Va. alumni and make network connections based on major, occupation, location, etc. You should also consider joining as a contact for others. You may meet a young student with the desire to connect with someone in the world of work or with the potential to help your new organization via an internship. While still a recent graduate, your perspectives on transitioning to a job, choosing a graduate school, or searching for employment might be of assistance to students.

Explore UVa. Alumni Clubs

UVaClubs is an organization that exists to link alumni of UVa. together in locations all across the country and internationally. These clubs are sponsored by the Alumni Association.

Join a Professional Organization

Professional organizations are groups of people much like yourself who are interested in developing their skills, connecting with other people in the field, and learning about new trends or issues in their respective fields. Many industries or career fields have some type of organization for those employees who want to connect with others. Example organizations include The Public Relations Society of America, American Sociological Association, and National Society of Accountants. Professional organizations can be excellent resources for those new employees who have specific needs that they would like to keep in mind while starting a new career. For those who are seeking organizations that address issues related to gender, ethnicity, and other categories, example organizations include The National Society of Black Engineers, The Association for Women in Psychology, and The National LGBT Bar Association.

When considering membership to any professional organization, you may want to consider the following factors:

  • How much will this membership cost? Will my new employer help fund this membership?
  • Will there be opportunities to meet other professionals?
  • What kinds of benefits are offered to members of this society?
  • When will the organization have conferences and/or events? Am I eligible to attend?

For additional assistance on finding appropriate professional organizations, try these resources:

Consider Other Organizations

There are also groups that exist to help young professionals in any industry to job sector to connect and exchange ideas. Many of these organizations also serve as a way for new professionals to have fun with other people! Transitioning to a new city or job can be stressful, and some of these organizations can provide you with an outlet to relieve that stress. Many major cities (including Charlottesville) have Young Professionals organizations that allow young career-minded individuals to mingle with others like them. You can also create more network contacts through platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Craigslist, or Yahoo! Groups. These resources are not endorsed by University Career Services or the University of Virginia, but they may offer some additional resources to young professionals who are looking to make contacts and expand their networks.

The University Career Services Library in Bryant Hall at Scott Stadium is open Monday through Friday; 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. There is a section of the library called Networking. Some books may be checked out (one per week); whereas, others are for reference only and may not be checked out. We provide comfortable reading spaces, access to computers, and a copier/printer which accepts Cavalier Advantage, so feel free to drop by anytime!

Here is a sampling of books on Networking:

  • It's Who You Know
  • 60 Minutes to Success
  • Vault Guide to Schmoozing
  • Power Networking