It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
What do you reckon? Do people tell you that networking is a great thing to do? Why do they keep doing that?!
Networking is about making connections and building enduring, mutually beneficial relationships. It can be a powerful tool, introducing you to a world of new contacts and new opportunities. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits:
- You become more clued up with recent relevant information.
- You can learn from the professionals that know their industry inside out.
- You will grow in confidence.
- You may secure work experience through the contacts you have made.
- You may hear about new employment and /or funding opportunities. Many people find out about job roles through word of mouth and not through the conventional methods.
- A new contact could act as a sounding board, eg, checking your CV for the sector where they already work.
- You never know who someone may put you in touch with until you ask!
Even if you’re happy that networking is a Useful Thing, it can be difficult to know how to get started and move forward with it. Leaving your comfort zone may seem a bit of a scary prospect but there are ways to break the task down into manageable chunks.
- Think about who is in your own network. These could be friends; family members; fellow students; careers advisers; work colleagues; professional bodies and community organisations.
- If there is a professional body attached to your discipline, join it and become active at a local or regional level so you can mix with professionals working in your area.
- Take advantage of recruitment events which will enable you to meet employers and get to know the graduate employees who are currently working for them.
- Social media has become an important method of establishing networks and generating work opportunities – think about how you use these.
- Twitter is more than just a means of telling the world what you’re having for breakfast: it actually has great potential for networking and finding out about work experience and job opportunities
- Join LinkedIn and grow your network by searching your email address book for LinkedIn members and using the LinkedIn search function to find people by name. Join groups related to your field of interest and you can join in discussions on topics of interest and see related job postings.
- Take care with what you post on social media as your settings can mean they are are easily accessible by employers!
- Before meeting with a contact as part of a networking process, you must find out some information about their organisation – this will ensure that you come across as interested and well prepared. It is also important to give some thought to the questions that you will ask your contact when you meet them. You will want to find out more about their organisation and also seek out advice they can give you as a result of their own experience.
Conferences and professional events are a great way to meet people, make contacts and find out more about the areas you are interested in working in. The Careers Service runs a number of events each year in different departments where you can meet employers and guest speakers from a range of professions. The Graduate Recruitment Fair is another good opportunity to speak to a range of organisations and make a good impression. You can find out about upcoming events by going to our Events Page on our main website. Make the most of these events!
By Suzanne Tucker, Careers Adviser