Networking is developing and making use of personal contacts with a purpose in mind. It can be used to find people who can recruit you or find out more about a job that you might be interested in.
Creating a networking strategy
- It is important to define what you want to achieve by networking. Do you want to find out more about opportunities available in a particular sector? Are you interested in a specific job role? Do you need advice on the recruitment process of a particular organisation? Are you looking to find some work experience opportunities?
- Once you have established this, you can decide how to go about achieving your objective/s by identifying what kinds of contacts and networking activities would be useful.
- Start by listing the contacts you already have: family members, friends, neighbours, people you know from your voluntary or extra-curricular activity, current/previous employers, academic staff, etc.
- You can identify potential contacts by doing research into professional bodies, trade journals, vacancy pages, careers directories, newspaper articles and employer websites.
- We have created a new scheme called 'Take an Alum for Coffee' where The Careers Service can arrange for you to meet an alum who has taken your course so you can discuss their career path. Please pop in to discuss your situation.
- One of the easiest ways to meet contacts is to attend job fairs, fora and employer talks organized by the Careers Service. Tips for how to prepare for job fairs can be found in 'Making most of Fairs.'
- Other activities that people use to build their contact network include setting up a seminar series for your peers, participating in email discussion groups, getting into committees and using social media to initiate and maintain contact.
Top tips for networking
- Approach people as a 'person', not merely as a potential job lead.
- If you are meeting a potential contact in person, be approachable: introduce yourself with a smile and a firm handshake.
- Contacts often respond better to a phone call than an email or a letter. If you are ringing someone, write down beforehand what you are planning to say so that you won't forget your objectives whilst having a conversation.
- Always ask at first for advice, not for a job and let the contacts know that you value their advice.
- Do not be a pest and monopolise your contacts' time.
For more information, see The Careers Service Guide created by The Careers Group.