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Eye on Psi Chi: Spring 2016

Career Engagement
Through Networking

John Jameson, Creative Financial Staffing (IL)
Paul Hettich, PhD, DePaul University (IL)
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Networking and Why Is It Important?
Networking is the sharing of knowledge and resources for mutual benefit. People network to learn about professions, find jobs and internships, grow businesses, and enrich careers. Networking is an important skill for psychology undergraduates to develop.
It is estimated that more than 70% of jobs are filled through networking, many of which are not posted online (Morgan, 2014). Through networking, you can learn about psychology-related employment opportunities.
If you are not among the 20 to 25% of the psychology baccalaureates who will pursue graduate study in psychology (Hettich & Landrum, 2014), building a network of trustworthy contacts will help you learn about employment opportunities before graduation.
A psychology degree can be utilized in many occupations and professions. By exploring career paths through networking, you can learn how experienced professionals have utilized their degree in applied settings, enhance your self-awareness, and create “ah-ha” moments that lead to a career path.
In this article, you will learn the basics of building a network online and through informational networking interviews (INI). You will also become familiar with seven proactive behaviors that lead to networking and career success, and learn about a hypothetical networking model that focuses on psychological drive fulfillment.
The Basics of Building a Network
Networking on the Internet opens doors to new organizations, fields, and contacts at the click of a mouse. The emergence of LinkedIn® and hundreds of other sites and apps have enabled people who previously were limited by geographic or time constraints to network. On a LinkedIn profile, you can list career experiences, education, associations (e.g., Psi Chi) and your passions. You can also build a brand (your specialty) by commenting on articles and blogs. Locating individuals who may be able to help create career opportunities is no longer the primary challenge for beginner networkers. Instead, your challenge is to make networking a priority, learn networking skills, and invest time to develop meaningful relationships. The Internet is an excellent source to find new contacts and build relationships that can grow through face-to-face dialogue.
INIs are a productive way to learn about career paths and uncover job opportunities. During an INI, seek information by asking questions, based on your prior research, about another’s career path, expertise, and passions. INIs can also be utilized to learn about organizations, psychology careers, and potential network contacts. Students can ask experienced practitioners how networking has impacted their career growth or even how to solve a problem. INIs can also lead to referrals to other professionals who can also support your growth and goal achievement.
Seven Proactive Networking Behaviors
 1. Develop Networking Goals
Just as finding internships and employment are common goals set by upcoming and recent graduates, so also is establishing a networking action plan. Networking goals can be attached to existing or potential contacts, target organizations, events, social media usage, or other networking resources. Goals have a higher likelihood of being achieved if they are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely (SMART; Kaye, 1997). A best practice after setting networking goals is to share them with someone else who will periodically check with you on your progress. Consider the following:
Networking Goal 
Supporting Resources
Completion Date
Completion Date
Conduct two informational
networking interviews

Ms. Grosse (for referrals and accountability)

Develop a Brand
Personal branding is a proactive career behavior that influences your ability to be sought after for career opportunities. A good first step is to create and share your career interests and specific work-related accomplishments on sites such as LinkedIn and Research-Gate. Sharing articles; research ideas; internship, volunteer, or club experiences; and career interests with classmates and new connections is another step to begin building your brand through networking. As you gain work experience, your brand will evolve, and these tips will help you to get started.
Develop and Manage Relationships
Developing meaningful networking relationships is the most important and enjoyable proactive networking behavior. Such relationships can be characterized by mutual trust and respect, knowledge of each other’s career interests and goals, and a genuine interest in helping the other individual.
Establish Trust
Establishing trust is a prerequisite to successful networking because people like to help people they can trust. Begin building trust after making a new networking contact by promising to follow up by e-mail. Networking offers individuals the opportunity to surround themselves with contacts who are trustworthy, which may increase overall career satisfaction and engagement. Following through on small commitments and building a network of trustworthy contacts will lead to successful networking.
Provide and Receive Referrals
Referral networking is commonly used in job search and career development. In job search, after rapport and trust is established, you can ask someone currently employed at a company you are interested in to “refer” you to the hiring manager for a position(s) of interest. Applicants referred by internal employees have a higher likelihood of being interviewed. Equally important is providing referrals (e.g., asking yourself “What two people do I know, who currently do not know each other and could benefit by an introduction?”).
Reciprocity is a belief that when we receive help from someone, we should find ways to return the favor. Reciprocating is an important networking behavior because it shows gratitude for the initial favor received, demonstrates that the relationship works both ways, and deepens the exchange of resources in a network. Experienced networkers do not “keep score” of favor exchanges, although returning a favor can be gratifying. Begin by asking yourself, “Who has helped me accomplish a goal or solve a problem that I can now reciprocate?”
Pay It Forward
Paying it forward is a proactive networking behavior whereby one person helps another before receiving help from that individual. Helping others is a cornerstone of networking because one person must take the first step to help another. Psychology majors have a networking edge over other majors because we have learned the basics of human motivation and needs through coursework. Real networking is about understanding the goals and drives of others, and finding ways to make others successful, not just yourself. Paying it forward can be a rewarding networking activity because many of us declared psychology as a major because we value helping others. Networking is give and take, which means that, in order to receive help, you must also find ways to help others be successful.
Networking and Psychological Drive Fulfillment
Many employees who are early in their careers face a dual challenge from their work; they find their work to be inherently unfulfilling and have limited prospects for career advancement. The Career Engagement Networking Model (CENM; see Figure 1) may offer these workers a road map through this dual challenge. Networking, when understood as a process that leads to jobs while fulfilling psychological drives, may enable individuals to take ownership over their career engagement and job satisfaction. Briefly, the basic concepts included in this hypothetical model consist of:
the psychological drives of autonomy (decision-making ability), mastery (learning something at an expert level), and purpose (participating in a cause larger than one’s self) described by Pink (2009) that serve as predictors of career engagement; and 
the seven networking behaviors (described above) that lead to job/career engagement.
One strategy for students preparing for a career should be to explore their own unfulfilled drives (i.e., the extent of their autonomy, mastery, and purpose) and identify the networking behaviors that lead to career engagement. Forty years of research supports the view that autonomy, mastery, and purpose are drivers of employee engagement (Pink, 2009). The CENM model, when supported by research evidence, might be utilized to help the 61% of U.S. employees who are not engaged at work (Gallup, 2014) fulfill these drives. For example, a new clinical counselor may work in a position with limited autonomy because the counselor must use scripted responses, work with an assigned patient population, and has limited control over working hours and break times. To satisfy an unfulfilled autonomy drive, the counselor might decide who to develop networking relationships with and create networking goals that will support continued career growth.
In sum, networking is an excellent way to uncover job opportunities and explore career paths. Start now by building a network of trustworthy contacts who can accelerate your career growth and trajectory. Which of the seven proactive networking behaviors will be your first step toward accomplishing career goals and drive fulfillment?
Gallup, Inc. (2014). Great jobs. Great lives: The 2014 Gallup-Purdue index report. Washington, DC: Gallup, Inc. Retrieved from
Jameson, J. (2014). Jump-start your job search. In Hettich, P. I., & Landrum, E. R. (Eds.),Your undergraduate degree in psychology from college to career. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
Kaye, B. (1997). Up is not the only way: A guide to developing workforce talent. Palo Alto, CA: Davies-Black.
Morgan, H. (2014). Don’t believe these 8 job search myths. U.S. News and World Report. Retrieved from
Pink, D. H. (2009). Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us. New York, NY: Riverhead Books.

John Jameson is an executive recruiter with Creative Financial Staffing in Chicago. Jameson has 10 years of recruiting and career development experience. He received a bachelor’s in industrial/organizational psychology from DePaul University (IL) in 2004, and will receive a master’s in industrial/organizational psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology in July 2016.

Paul Hettich, PhD, Professor Emeritus at DePaul University (IL), was an Army personnel psychologist, program evaluator in an education R&D lab, and a corporate applied scientist—positions that created a “real world” foundation for his career in college teaching and administration. He was inspired to write about college-to-workplace readiness issues by graduates and employers who revealed a major disconnect between university and workplace expectations, cultures, and practices. You can contact Paul at

Author note. Special thanks to Dr. George Hay, Associate Chair at The Chicago School of Psychology, for his comments on the CENM model under development. To learn more about networking, consult Jameson in Hettich & Landrum (2014).

Copyright 2016 (Volume 20, Issue 3) by Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology


Eye on Psi Chi is a magazine designed to keep members and alumni up-to-date with all the latest information about Psi Chi’s programs, awards, and chapter activities. It features informative articles about careers, graduate school admission, chapter ideas, personal development, the various fields of psychology, and important issues related to our discipline.

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