How to network effectively

Have you thought about what you plan to do after university? Did you know that networking with employers is key when it comes to gaining employment? Our Careers team have been providing us with a series of blog posts towards those who are job seeking or soon to be job seeking. Read on to find out their tips on networking!

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What is networking and why is it so important?

Networking is the art of building and sustaining mutually beneficial relationships. It allows you to share knowledge and contacts and helps you to discover new avenues as well! The networks you build can open doors and point you in the right direction. Making contacts can help you investigate, research and prepare where otherwise you might not know where to start.

For opportunities to network you may want to attend events like careers events within the university along with conferences, courses and trade fairs. You might be lucky enough to have natural networks and have connections within your group of friends, colleagues or family too! Get involved with social media, join relevant groups and forums to discuss and learn from others. Join specific business or industry networks online and get as much information as you possibly can!

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First impressions count

With every new encounter, you are evaluated and an impression is formed so make it the right one! You are creating your own personal brand. You can make a good first impression by –

• Being on time
• Being yourself
• Presenting yourself appropriately
• Being open and confident
• What you say and how you say it
• Projecting individuality
• Being positive
• Smiling!

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Building rapport

Meeting new people can be daunting and nerve-racking, just remember that they might be just as nervous as you are! Here’s how you might create a connection:

• Involve yourself in conversations
• Do some research in who you are meeting
• Know why you are there and what you want to find out – Prepare questions!
• Be courteous and respectful of others’ time
• Introduce others – Bring people into the conversation
• Recognise when it is time to move on
• Thank the person for their time
• If you would benefit from staying in touch, ask if they have a business card
• Don’t be embarrassed about leaving the conversation!

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Building your network

Networking is a powerful tool and making a good first impression may help you land a job as soon as you finish your degree. Ultimately its about who you know so building personal relationships will make you stand out from the crowd.

• Follow up with contacts you have made
• Connect through professional sites
• Reconnect at good intervals (don’t leave it three months to get in touch)
• Attend networking events (careers events/ conferences/trade fairs)
• Think about your natural networks (friends, family, colleagues)
• Leverage social media (Join groups and discussions to learn from others)
• Join specific business or industry networks

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The do’s and don’ts

Here’s a summary of what you need to remember at networking events –

Do

Be open and positive at these events, make sure to prepare questions so you know what you should ask and follow-up with prepared responses. Be respectful of others time and priorities. Be humourous and share your own knowledge but be mindful of when it is time to move on with the conversation. Take part in conversations while also involving others. Make sure to follow up with contacts and stay in touch with those you meet.

Don’t

Try not to be too pushy with people as this can be quite invasive and may turn people off reaching out to you again, for example demanding business cards from everyone you meet. Try not to rush conversations, use unprofessional language or ignore others questions. We strongly suggest that you don’t get drunk at these events!

Hopefully this was helpful and now you will be confident when you are networking at events.

Lorraine Amies – Careers Consultant

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