Santa Clara University

Career Corner

Networking is key to job searches

Kathy Potter
Kathy Potter 

While shopping recently in the mall, I did an interesting "experiment." Feeling a little ornery and noticing how people moved through the crowds and maneuvered among kiosks and doorways, I decided to take a straight line to my destination and refuse, if at all possible, to move from my path. Many other people seemed to do that, so why not me? As I took my direct tack, I began to pay attention to others' reactions to my plan and my own inner responses.

What I found is that I could not maintain my rigidity in staying the course. I simply had to swerve to avoid a collision or I was intimidated by the size of the oncoming person. I also felt selfish in forcing my way of doing things on someone else who probably also had his or her own way of moving forward. As annoyed as I was that I couldn't assert my way of managing shared space, I also realized that, as in all aspects of life, we are most effective when we give a little and make way for others. We feel better; they feel better.

As I contemplated the experiment, I began to see a parallel with perhaps the most important aspect of a successful job search: Networking. At least 80 percent of the best jobs are found through networking. And what does networking require? Giving a little and getting a little; sharing "space" with all the people you have ever known; noticing the pathways that cross with certain people and finding new pathways when the old ones don't get you where you want to go; and allowing yourself to make connections when you would rather be doing something else. Unlike other job search strategies, networking helps both parties in the interaction feel good about themselves.

Networking is a systematic method of getting someone you know to introduce you to someone you don't know. Responding to job postings online can't do that; reading want ads can't do that; hoping for the phone to ring doesn't work.

To help you with your networking skills and all other aspects of developing your career, stop by the Career Center or call for an appointment. Jon Sakurai-Horita, the new assistant director for alumni, will work with you to meet your needs.

Kathy Potter is director of SCU's Career Center. She can be reached by phone at 408-554-4859 or by e-mail at Visit the Career Center online at

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