Networking is an incredibly valuable skill which can help you to reach out for information, advice and support as you explore your career options and apply for graduate jobs or further study
What is Networking?
Networking is where you find opportunities to interact with others, share information and develop contacts in careers that you are interested in. It’s your chance to build a rapport with professionals and get advice and feedback from them regarding your career plans and job applications etc. If you network successfully, you’ll be able to stand out from the crowd and this will make it a lot easier to get the graduate job you’ve always wanted.
Why should you Network? Networking allows you to tap into unadvertised jobs that only those who show initiative can access. Networking will often make you more memorable to those who could offer you a job and could open doors to opportunities; the possibilities that are endless.
How to Network?
The best place to start is with who you already know. What personal contacts do you already have through your part time job, your voluntary work, your degree or even your hobbies? How many of these people already know you can do a great job, and would be interested in connecting with you? Could any of these people help you explore your career aims or be connected to others who can?
Once you’ve identified who to talk to, it’s a good idea to try and get in touch; be it through a face to face chat or online via social networking sites like LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter; or even by simply giving them a ring!
The Do’s and Don’ts of networking
- Have an idea of what you want from your contacts: it could be insights on their work and experience, the chance to expand your contacts through introductions to others, or even feedback on your CV.
- Do your research – it’s a lot easier if you know a little bit about the companies you are talking to, and can even impress your new networking contact and help build a rapport.
- Have a realistic idea as to where your skills and experience could take you
- Pretty much any contact is a good contact, even if they are not directly involved with recruitment – they might be able to help you with advice and introductions to others.
- Try and keep the conversation light when meeting a new contact.
- Be confident about yourself. You will have something to offer. If you really want to get your foot in the door, maybe consider trying to obtain an internship or a voluntary position in a chosen organisation to help make yourself stand out.
- Use Social Media; it’s a great tool that can really help yourself stand-out/allow interested people the chance to network with you.
- Ask a contact directly for a job; it puts people in a really difficult position
- Be apologetic about asking people for help: you could be doing them favour
- Shower your contacts with demands – they’ll start to avoid you and you’ll lose that contact.
- Prolong contacts that clearly won’t go anyway; e.g. if someone is far too busy to help you, or is just simply not showing much of an interest.
Networking through Social Media
Social Media is something we all use to interact with our friends, and as a tool it can be really useful and constructive for networking.
One of the best networking tools is LinkedIn. This allows you to connect with potential employers, contact them and even follow businesses for an idea of what they do etc.
94% of recruiters are active on social media to advertise roles and 87% are advertised on LinkedIn; however only 36% job seekers are using LinkedIn. Creating an excellent LinkedIn profile could also allow you to access a number of informal graduate vacancies in any sector.
Take a look at our LinkedIn Guide here: http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/media/lancaster-university/content-assets/documents/careers/LinkedInGuide.pdf
Twitter and Facebook can also be great tools to help with networking. Twitter in particular allows employers to find out a lot about your personality etc. and also allows you to show a lot more interest in them.
The danger with using social media is by generally being inappropriate. Although you want to show your bubbly personality: an employer/contact is unlikely to want to see you going out with your mates, or your summer holidays in Zante. It might be a wise idea to have a strong level of privacy settings on one form of social media like Facebook, while showing a slightly more professional side on more public forms of Social Media like Twitter and Linked in.
We offer a wide range of events to the help find out more about networking. Why not come along and find out more for yourself! You can book onto all of the events via TARGETconnect, or simply click on the links below.