Networking face-to-face in the digital age

Samantha Belcher

As Grand Valley State University prepares for graduation, students will be looking for jobs by dressing up, practicing interviewing skills and networking. However, in a technology-driven age where more people are using the Internet to find jobs than ever, some people question the importance of networking and meeting potential employers in person.

Susan Proctor, assistant director of Career Services at GVSU, said the question of importance surrounding face-to-face networking is no question at all.

“It’s really important for students to go to job fairs and meet face-to-face,” Proctor said, adding that even though most companies require people to submit online applications, 70 to 80 percent of positions are not posted online.

In the spirit of face-to-face networking skills, GVSU will host a career fair today from 1 to 5 p.m. in the DeVos Place Convention Center.

“It’s a great way to practice and build a report,” Proctor said, adding that students are encouraged to go and “build a professional network to look for future careers and internships.”

About 168 companies are offering 5,300 internships and jobs for students in a wide variety of industries, such as health care, retail and engineering. Companies from all over the Midwest, including Steelcase, Meijer, Spectrum Health and Wolverine World Wide, will be at the fair.

When networking, Proctor said students should dress professionally and bring a resume, as well as research companies before meeting with potential employers.

Although face-to-face contact is valued in career searching, virtual networking is also important.

GVSU Vice Provost Bart Merkle said the Internet has dramatically changed the job search process. Merkle said employers are frequently using the Internet to connect with employees and check out candidates through social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

“(It is) far easier to get information out in a broad reach,” he said.

Regardless of the medium used for networking, making connections with the right people is often the key to finding a good job.

Due to the global economic downturn, many people — especially students — have had difficulty gaining employment, and there is a lot of speculation that finding a job depends on “who you know.”

Merkle said anytime there is hiring, there are connections. However, he said he believes that relying simply on a connection is less prevalent across the board than it was years ago.

In the end, Merkle said people who are passionate and take pride in their work are the types of people that find they have the most career opportunities.

“Students need to understand what their passion and interest is,” he said. “(Students should) find a job that will allow them to do what they want to do.”

For more information about the Career Fair visit

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