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Chapter 36. Recent College Graduates: Le... > Networking by Association

Networking by Association

Professional and industry associations can be a gold mine for recent college graduates looking to build or expand their networking circle. By joining—and actively participating in—the right professional associations, recent grads can expand their networks, meet prospective employers, and gain insight into hiring practices, corporate culture, and more. Follow these tips for successful networking by association:

Be selective Join only those associations that will put you in contact with the right people. Start by asking your mentor and other successful professionals what industry associations they belong to. For a comprehensive list of associations in your industry or geographic market, visit the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) at www.asaenet.org.

Enjoy guest status before joining Many associations allow prospective members to attend a few meetings free of charge or at a reduced guest price. This is a great low- or no-cost way to determine whether an association is worth your time and money.

Take advantage of student discounts If you are still in school or are a recent grad, you may qualify for a student membership at a reduced cost. Just be sure to join the local association in your target market, not a campus-based, student-only branch of the association.

Mine the membership directory As an association member, you should receive a current membership directory—an invaluable networking tool.

Approach prospective contacts and employers Use the membership directory to reach out to prospective networking contacts or employers. Whether using e-mail or the phone, be sure to mention you are a student member of the association, are conducting a job search, and would like to schedule a brief informational interview.

Cut your losses Some association chapters are so overrun with students and job seekers that professional members—the people you want to contact— do not attend meetings. If you find yourself surrounded by dozens of people just like you (fresh out of college and looking for a job), cut your losses and move on. It is unlikely these people can help you find work.



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