For some, the word ‘networking’ sends shivers down their spine. Especially after having the old saying of “it isn’t what you know, it’s who you know’” being thrown at you constantly while trying to find a job. You can significantly increase your chances of success in almost any field if you know or can get in touch with the right people.
Use Your Socials
Staying in touch with employers and companies is the main source of finding jobs and social media is a great way to achieve that nowadays.
LinkedIn is vital to networking, especially now that everything is virtual. You have access to their job board, are able to contact recruiters directly, build your name, research companies, and connect! It allows you to see mutual connections and people that share the same interests as you so use this social media advantage to network.
Make sure your profile is always up-to-date and shows the best of you. Recruiters will regularly check lots of profiles, so you need yours to stand out. This does mean having all your sections completed and having a profile photo. Just make sure this photo is professional.
Here are 5 tips to help when at a networking event:
- Have a purpose. Try and know what you want out of this networking meeting because it will also be easier for other people to help you if they know what you are looking for.
- Be approachable. Don’t dive into a heavy topic or work talk, try and establish some common ground.
- First listen and then tell. Ask them about themselves and their interests and then let the conversation naturally turn to you to introduce your focus. Prepare your introduction ahead of time so the person knows exactly who you are and what you’re doing and what you’re looking for.
- Plan a few key questions. Conversation can naturally drop off especially virtually so try and plan some questions that you want to know and that will spark conversation.
- Follow up! This is very important because otherwise people can forget about you and what you’re looking for. Always email the people you met with after a couple of days just to remind them of your interests and offer your services. Its also not a bad practice to ask if they can add you on LinkedIn.
Here are some things to AVOID while virtually networking:
- Don’t come onto the call in scruffy clothes or your pjs. Dress like you would for a face to face event or interview.
- Don’t sit in the dark. Bring a lamp closer to your face so people can see you and your facial expressions.
- Don’t have an unprofessional username.
- Don’t immediately jump into someone’s inbox asking for a job or favour. Use the time to establish a relationship before getting to specifics that benefit you.
We also spoke to our Careers Consultants Jane and Graham for some advice.
“The key thing you have to remember with networking, if it is an organised graduate, internship or placement recruitment event they are there to talk to you and want to talk to you! Therefore nothing you can say will be wrong. Before you go, do some research on the company and programme you are thinking of applying to and draw up some questions on what you want to know that will help you with your application, future interviews and longer career progression.
It’s always a good idea to ask the people you are speaking to about their experiences of working at this company and how it has helped their career development – people love talking about themselves generally!”
“Remember, you’re allowed to look stupid, they are the experts and you are there to learn.
As you’re there to learn ask them questions that you’re confident they can answer, such as ‘What do you like best about your role?’, ‘What activities do you do every week?’, ‘What are your top priorities at the moment?’. These kinds of questions will get them talking, so when they say something interesting ask them to tell you more about it.”
And here’s three things you could say when introducing yourself:
- Who you are and what you do. “My name is XX and I am studying XX”
- Highlight some relevant skills or experience you have. “I’ve developed a strong interest in XX through my studies and summer internship”
- What you are there for. “And I’m here to today to meet people working in XX and find out more about what it takes to succeed in the field”
Try not to be put off with virtual events because although you can’t circulate, like you would in a room, you can still put yourself out there and make an impression on employers. Try and use the situation to your advantage and ask questions that you wouldn’t be able to ask in an interview.
Written in collaboration with Sarah Chorley (Careers Communications Officer).