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What the heck is “networking”  and why should I do it?

Merriam Webster Dictionary defines networking as:

“…the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions -- the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business”…

I know, I know – I hate the term “networking” as much as you do!

I’ll let you in on a little secret. I hate the term as much as you do. To me, when people talk about “networking” --  it sounds to me as though they are using people to get what they want without having any regard for the individual providing the help/assistance. So, take a deep breath. I don’t use the term “networking”.  Instead,  I like and advise people to have real/meaningful interactions with people and to be “straight up” and just ask for help.  Instead of saying “networking”, let’s take the pressure off.  We’ll talk about “connecting” with people instead. Let’s agree to go out and meet/interact with people and follow-up with them. When you go to meetings, classes, conferences and wherever else you meet people --  collect their business cards and send a follow-up email to say something like “it was good to meet you” or “thank you”.

Did you know that it’s estimated that only about 15% of job openings are posted?

Yes, indeed! That means in order to find a job, one really should “connect” with as many people as possible. If only 15% of jobs are posted – that means that about 85% of jobs are not posted. You will hear of these jobs by doing individual informational meetings with people, going to career fairs and expos, going to the supermarket, classes, asking to meet people, etc. You never know who might know of a job opening. Yes, someone might tell you about a great job while you are a host at a restaurant (it’s happened to some of our students).

What if you’re shy?

I know everyone is not a born extrovert. Have no fear … you can just request as many one-on-one meetings with people as possible. Make sure to do your research about people you are meeting with by “Googling” and/or looking for contacts on Linkedin.  By just meeting with one person at a time, you don’t need to be the life of the party. Show your interest and appreciation. People appreciate sincerity and honesty. If you need help …yes, just ask. Don’t be too prideful to let people know you could use some advice.

Good luck! Go out there and be yourself. Show your appreciation when other people help you. You’ll be surprised how far you can go in life by just showing your appreciation to others. It is rare when people take the time to thank others for their help. The Harvard Business Review did a good article about “networking,” or what we’re calling “connecting” -- https://hbr.org/2016/05/learn-to-love-networking

Good luck to all! As with everything in life --- practice does make perfect!

Margaret “Mag” Gottlieb is the Career Director at the Graduate School of Political Management at the George Washington University. Connect with Mag on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/margaret-gottlieb-1457753/ or via email at mag@gwu.edu.

An informational interview is usually a “one-on-one” meeting to learn about someone’s experience working in a field or organization that interests you. It's not a job interview, so it's important to listen to get information, not a job offer. You can send someone an email asking for a 10 or 15-minute informational meeting. Make sure to respect someone’s time and offer to leave the meeting after 15 minutes.

Too many job seekers focus on just answering job postings. While it feels good to answer job ads, it is estimated that job postings represent only about 15% of all job openings. The other 85% of openings can be found through “hidden networks”. By doing as many informational interviews as you can, you will learn of job openings and movements within your field of interest. Make sure to ask people to keep their ears/eyes open for you in case they learn of something that might interest you. Be polite and not too aggressive. If you are likable/polite/appreciative, people will want to help you.

Some questions you might want to ask during an informational interview:

  1. How did you get your job?
  2. What advice do you have for me?
  3. Are there other people you think I should be talking to?
  4. What type of skills are important to be successful in the field of politics, public affairs, government relations et al?
  5. What kind of person do you enjoy working with?

*You can find further information about informational interviews online. YouTube has some good examples - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6Pa4ZB4mvQ

Margaret “Mag” Gottlieb is the Career Director at the Graduate School of Political Management at the George Washington University. Connect with Mag on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/margaret-gottlieb-1457753/ or via email at mag@gwu.edu.

GWU’s Graduate School of Political Management (GSPM) prides itself on its reach and influence  around the globe. GSPM students and alumni are viewed as some of the best “connectors” of people and coalitions. Each year, at least one new student, (aka new member of the “GSPM fold”), spends more time arguing about not wanting to connect on LinkedIn than it would take to just connect.  So, why not just be a good team player and work to make your connections?

Where do I start?

One of my mottos is “never reinvent the wheel”. You’ll learn in politics that you need to know a lot of information and you’ll need to learn quickly. So, don’t spend time doing something that’s already been done. LinkedIn has some excellent online information as to how to set up a LinkedIn profile. You can read the information here -- https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/linkedin-beginner-all-star-8-easy-steps-clifford-wessel/ .

Why do I need 500+ connections anyway?

If you want to work in the political/legislative/public affairs world, you need to know people. And, you need to “know people… who know people”. LinkedIn makes it easy for you. From your desktop computer or phone while you’re at the beach, you can start increasing your connections.

Many employers won’t even interview a candidate before scoping out their LinkedIn connections and making sure the job candidate has at least 500+ connections.  An employer looks much more positively on a well-connected candidate than one who doesn’t appear to know anybody.

Also, many employers hire right off of LinkedIn by reviewing candidates in any given field. Too, many organizations post job leads on LinkedIn before they post on their own organization’s website.

How the heck do I get 500+ connections?

Every year at least one person asks this question and says … “I don’t know 500 people”. Yes, you do. You’ll find by joining groups on LinkedIn that you can connect easily with people who belong to the LinkedIn groups that you belong to and that you’re interested in joining. Connect with friends, family, schoolmates, teachers, professors, people you grew up with, people from your schools, etc. You will get there. It doesn’t even take that much time.

Isn’t quality better than quantity?

When it comes to LinkedIn, it is good to have both quality and quantity. No, I don’t want you to connect with strangers. Just take a little time to explore all of your different circles you know. You’ll surprise yourself by really digging through names of people you do know and connecting with them. LinkedIn has over 500 million users. Why not be part of the big world out there?

Any parting words for me?

Trust me on this one … you may not enjoy it now, but you will enjoy being part of the LinkedIn community. No, LinkedIn doesn’t pay me a penny to say that, but I have been a LinkedIn devotee from day one, and when I was invited to be a “LinkedIn Advisor”, I gladly accepted because I want to be a part of a group who continues to connect like-minded people and to see that people can find other people who can help them with their career goals and job search needs.

Good luck to you! You can connect with me on LinkedIn and let me know in a message how you might know me. Example: ”I’m coming to D.C. and I’m joining GSPM”. Hope so!

***Every year, at least one new student works in the Intelligence Community. If someone’s job prevents them from using social media, the student needs to discuss that privately with us. Or, if you’ve been stalked or something like that, we certainly wouldn’t force the use of social media. We aren’t completely inflexible.

Margaret “Mag” Gottlieb is the Career Director at the Graduate School of Political Management at the George Washington University. Connect with Mag on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/margaret-gottlieb-1457753/

Hey everyone! I’m Josh Kim and I am the President of the GSPM Student Association. The Graduate School of Political Management (GSPM) is an extraordinary program. In fact, there is no other graduate program like GSPM. You may have heard the saying, “Only at GSPM.” It’s a common hashtag on GSPM social media pages. However, “Only at GSPM” transcends hashtags. It captures the essence of our remarkable graduate program. On a regular basis, I am often left saying or thinking, “Only at GSPM.” 

This summer, I am taking two classes including “Running for Office” with The Honorable Connie Mack IV. Every “Running for Office” class exemplifies the “Only at GSPM” experience. “Only at GSPM” do you get a hands-on experience of how to run for office with a former United States congressman. Learning from Congressman Connie Mack IV has been an invaluable experience. He has incredible knowledge and equips his students with the tools they need to succeed if they run for public office. “Running for Office” is not just for students seeking to run for public office. We have many bright and talented students that will be successful politicians in the future. However, this class is also beneficial for a wide range of future careers including campaign management and political consulting. I don’t see myself running for office in the future, but I am grateful to have garnered critical tools that will help me succeed in my professional endeavors. In the “Running for Office” class, Professor Mack has brought in terrific guest speakers including Jo Anne Barnhart, Tony Fabrizio, and Larry Weitzner. Jo Anne Barnhart served as Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Tony Fabrizio was a pollster for Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, and Larry Weitzner’s firm created television advertisements for President Trump’s 2016 campaign. At GSPM, you get to hear from the best of the best. What is even more remarkable is that each of these guest speakers have been nice enough to stay in touch with students from the class after their respective visits. Congressman Mack exemplifies the outstanding devotion professors at GSPM give their students. Despite his busy professional schedule, Professor Mack makes time to meet with students outside of class. He wants to see his students succeed and offers wonderful guidance and insight. Professor Mack has an innate ability to pinpoint a student’s strengths and weaknesses and offer feedback that ultimately leads to a student’s exponential growth and development. 

It’s amazing how accessible professors are to their students at GSPM. If you reach out to one of your professors at GSPM about meeting outside of class, I can assure you that they’ll be more than happy to do so. Sometimes, professors even reach out to students about meeting outside of class. I’ve had professors reach out to me to provide professional guidance and insight. At GSPM, you have a team of professors that will guide you to professional success. 

GSPM is the world’s first and foremost school of applied politics, communications, and advocacy. To top it all off, it’s in the heart of the nation’s capital. Some of our classes take place less than a block away from The White House. You won’t find any other graduate program like that. As a prospective graduate student, you may have looked at other graduate programs. You may even think these other programs are like GSPM. However, that is not the case. At GSPM, your classes will be taught by practitioners in the field who specialize in the subject matter of the course. You have small class sizes and will develop strong professional and personal relationships with your professors and classmates. 

I really appreciate how each class at GSPM is a unique experience. My other class this summer is “Digital Content Creation.” For one of my class projects, a classmate and I filmed a video at the Lincoln Memorial. (By the way, how awesome is it that all these incredible monuments and museums are just a quick walk from GW’s Foggy Bottom campus?) Unique experiences are not the exception at GSPM, they are the norm. While, I was walking around the monuments with my classmate, we met someone I cited in a paper for one of my previous classes at GSPM. It was yet another “Only at GSPM” moment. I’ve had so many “Only at GSPM” moments that, as cheesy as it sounds, I could honestly write a book about it. However, this is supposed to be a blog post, and not a novel (by the way I’ve never written a blog before, so my apologies if this reads more like a term paper than a blog). 

While, I expected to learn a great deal from my professors at GSPM, I never imagined I would learn so much from fellow students in the program. As someone who moved to Washington, D.C. last fall to start the GSPM program, it was a bit daunting to be in a new city and no prior experience working in the nation’s capital. If you’re a prospective GSPM student and have never lived in D.C. or are interested in starting the program right after undergrad, you have no reason to worry. GSPM is an amazing community and you’ll meet so many great people. GSPM has provided me great friends and classmates. During my time at GSPM, I have been really blessed to have a phenomenal mentor. This mentor has been a classmate and fantastic friend. He’s unbelievably accomplished, but his humility is even more remarkable. He’s been a great role model for me and has always been there for me. I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to meet a student like this at GSPM. He’s shown me the ropes and has taught me a great deal. He’s helped me with class presentations, given me great advice, and has inspired me to keep believing in myself. “Only at GSPM” will you have classmates that will become extraordinary mentors to you. 

Another great part of my experience at GSPM has been the GSPM Student Association Executive Board. This past spring, GSPM Student Association Executive Board elections were held. I had many friends at GSPM that encouraged me to run, but I wasn’t sure that I should do it. Luckily my friends and classmates at GSPM were incredibly supportive and I was compelled to give back to a program that has provided me so much. Running for GSPM Student Association President was an experience I will always be grateful for. It allowed me to branch out and meet with students in the other GSPM programs. It made me feel even closer to the program, which I didn’t think was possible, and it allowed me to showcase my zealous passion for the program. I was deeply humbled to be elected to the GSPM Student Association Executive Board. I am extremely excited to work with the new executive board. So far, we’ve been doing weekly conference calls and are preparing for a great school year. 

GSPM has been more than classroom and extracurricular experiences. It’s also about the moments in between classes. After class, I am often grabbing food with classmates. We always have great conversations and we often talk about how awesome class was earlier that evening. To me, that’s a part of the GSPM experience as well. It’s going to baseball game with friends from GSPM on a Friday. It’s going to The Palm because you and your classmates aced your class presentations the night before and chicken parmigiana sounds like a nice reward. It’s walking around the monuments with your friends from GSPM late at night to talk about your hopes and dreams. Whether you’re an extrovert or introvert, new to D.C. or have worked in D.C. for years, you’re going to meet amazing people at GSPM and share unforgettable experiences with them. 

As I am writing this blog post, I cannot help but feel tremendous gratitude for the experiences I’ve had at GSPM. When I began my journey at GSPM last fall, I never imagined I would be where I am today. Enrolling in GSPM is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. The lessons you’ll learn, the people you’ll meet, and the experience you’ll have will make an indelible impression on your life. You can tailor this degree to fit your professional needs. You don’t have to be managing a campaign or working as a legislative aide to make use of a degree from GSPM. The versatility of a degree from GSPM can be beneficial for a variety of professional careers. 

I am going to miss GSPM when I graduate from the program. However, I will always be grateful for the experiences and relationships I’ve made at GSPM. The people I have met at GSPM will always be important to me. I am also confident that GSPM has prepared me for a successful career. With my journey at GSPM nearly over, I cannot wait to see what the future has in store for my classmates and me.

Joshua Kim is a student in GSPM's Political Management master's program and is the president of the GSPM Student Association.