As a Berklee student, alumnus, or alumna, you’re a member of one of the most powerful and close-knit networks in the music and creative arts industries. Take advantage of it.
Networking Done Well
Networking is the single most important activity you can undertake when trying to find employment, but it’s important not to approach it with a mindset that it's all about finding a job. Networking doesn’t work when either of you starts from a place of self-interest (e.g., “What can this person do for me?”).
Instead, networking is about getting to know someone and letting them get to know you. Relationships are built on questions (i.e, “What do you do?” “What are you passionate about?” “Can you share advice?” “How might I be able to help you?”). Keep in mind that even if a job opportunity never materializes from a relationship you’ve built, chances are that relationship will yield knowledge that you will find valuable in the future.
Successful networking isn’t a one-time interaction. Ongoing positive communication is required to build and grow a relationship. It may not lead to an immediate job, but if you do it well, over time, when positions open up, those people with whom you’ve built relationships may think of you when a need that you’d be suited for arises—and then you’ll have an advantage over the competition.
How to Build Your Network
Networking requires your active engagement with professionals in your field. Here are some ways to get started:
- Identify people you would like to connect with and reach out to them; if they are receptive, request an informational interview.
- Ask professors to point you toward alumni or colleagues with whom they think you share interests and who they suspect may be open to talking with you.
- Attend conferences, seminars, or workshops held by professional associations in your field to meet and learn about new people. (View our list of some professional associations that may interest you.)
- Follow individuals and companies you're interested in on social media such as LinkedIn, and look for opportunities to engage with them in more personal ways.
- Seek an alumni mentor in consultation with the Berklee Career Center.
An informational interview is not a job interview. Rather, it is an excellent opportunity for you to learn about a field, career, or company of interest from someone with more experience, such as a Berklee alumnus or alumna on a career path similar to one that you aspire to follow.
Here are some "do's" and "don'ts" to make the most of your informational interview.
- Introduce yourself and explain how their work relates to your interests.
- Be specific in your request (“I’d like to meet you for coffee to discuss X at a time convenient for you.”).
- Ask a lot of detailed questions (e.g., “How did you get started?” “What was your first job after graduation?” “What do you know now that you wish you’d known earlier?").
- Be yourself and keep it positive.
- Conduct significant research ahead of time (if you undertake an informational interview without researching your interviewee, it may seem disrespectful).
- Send a thank-you note after the interview.
- If they are receptive, stay in touch over time.
- Ask for a job (unless the other person brings it up, in which case it's good to ask questions about it).
- Talk more than they do (it’s good for them to get to know you on a personal level, but in an informational interview, your focus should be on listening and absorbing rather than telling your life story).
- Stick to your list of prepared questions like a robot (allow the conversation to flow naturally rather than “sticking to the script”).
- Offer negative comments.