Networking is a great way to find jobs that aren’t advertised in traditional channels. Up to 75% of jobs are found through word-of-mouth or referrals. Using your contacts allows you to tap into this hidden job market.
Your current network could include friends, lecturers, workmates, students in your classes or clubs and societies, employers and sporting team mates. Some of these people may already work in your industry or know someone who could help you.
Starting to network
You need to plan your networking. Being clear about your future goals makes it easier for someone to help you.
Start with people you know well. They'll want to help and you'll feel more comfortable approaching them for help.
- Think about your friends, family, teachers, members of clubs or groups you belong to, former work friends or employers. Do they know someone in your industry you can talk to for more information?
- Set up a LinkedIn profile and share it with your contacts.
To ensure you make a good impression and appear informed, research the company and industry before talking to your contact.
Write a list of questions to ask about anything that isn't answered in your research.
Leave out questions that are easily answered by checking their website.
A great opportunity to practise is when you meet others at a professional event like a careers fair or employer information session.
- Practise telling someone your name, course and which positions interest you.
- What skills can you offer?
- Where else can you meet people and practise? Consider lectures, student events and professional associations or other extracurricular activities.
Next steps for networking
Increase your contacts
- Every person you meet is a possible contact
- Ask your contacts to suggest new contacts
- Go to career events run by Career Connect, your faculty or student groups
- Join professional or industry associations and go to their events
- Join professional social networking sites like LinkedIn and groups in your area of interest
Use your contacts
- Focus on people you can call or speak to in person.
- Only contact people when you have their name. If you haven't met them, mention your original contact or how you got their name up front.
- When you get help from a contact, send them a follow up thank you message
- Keep in contact with people who have helped you
Reflect on what you've learnt
Keep notes with details of who you spoke to, follow-up actions, key points discussed).
- make a good impression and leave your audience with a message?
- appear confident?
- keep the conversation flowing?
- show genuine interest in what others had to say?
- find the right people to speak with, or get referred to the right person?
- learn something new from each person you spoke with?
Reflecting on these each times means you'll know if you need to gather more information and what you can do to improve for your next meeting.
Your personal brand
A big part of networking is taking time to consider your image. What impression do you want to leave for potential colleagues and employers? The way you present and express yourself, both in person and in writing is the most obvious way to make a positive impact.
An elevator pitch is a brief introduction of who you are and what kind of roles you're looking for. Can you deliver it in the time it takes for an elevator ride (approximately 30 seconds)? Done correctly, it's a good way to get a networking conversation started and can get a potential employer’s attention quickly and effectively.
Check your email
Consider whether your email address is indicating professionalism. If not - change studmuffin@hotmail and fairyprincess@gmail to something more appropriate.
Your social profile
Organisations commonly scan a candidate's social media presence. Googled yourself lately? Look carefully at your privacy settings and consider 'untagging' yourself from unsuitable photos in Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. LinkedIn provides better opportunities to promote yourself in a more professional setting.
- Check out social media for job searching for more information on personal branding.