Teaching Professional Networking: Students Building Contacts Outside the Classroom
This pilot study implemented a method for teaching professional networking to college business communication students. The method introduced students to data on new college graduate unemployment and underemployment, research on methods for filling open positions, and the concept of six degrees of separation. Where most examples of professional networking instruction in prior research took place exclusively in the classroom, this method required students to make and track contacts in their chosen professional fields. Student reactions were captured in reflection papers and an open response survey and analyzed qualitatively using coding and similarity comparison (Boeije, 2010). Responses were not overly surprising as students indicated learning about their career field, the importance of utilizing connections, challenges in networking, and the benefits that can come from networking. The hands-on nature of the instruction and need for networking as a skill among CTE students creates opportunities for future research.