DGHE & Coronavirus

Networking - it's not as difficult as you might think!

Jul 17, 2020 | Students Career Progression


Today I’m going to talk about Networking.  We are often nervous about networking, but if you can develop this skill it can be an invaluable way of finding out about the sector you wish to work in, keep up-to-date with current business trends, follow companies and look for jobs.  You can start in a small way and gradually build you network over time. 

First of all:

Draw up a list of everyone who might be able to help you in your search for work: friends, family, former colleagues, tutors, any business contacts you have, all of whom are potential sources of information or advice. Think about what they can do for you. This could include:

• keeping you informed about a sector that they work in

• providing advice on your strategy and approach, the impression you make on social media networking

• introducing you to others, for example by joining their social media networks

• providing recommendations or references for you

Extending your network

Because it is not just ′who you know′ but also ′who they know′, it’s worth investing time to extend your network.  Having a profile on LinkedIn is a great way to build your network.  Remember, it takes time to build up your network as it’s an ongoing activity.  You need to be patient and take a long-term approach. It is like watering flowers and watching them flourish.

Building up a network

Keep a record of your contacts and any discussions you may have. This can help you keep tabs on where you are, which need follow-up, and most importantly, it can stop you getting confused over important details.

Approaching your contacts

First decide how you will approach your contacts. Several methods are possible, but you need to decide which is right for you, which are appropriate for your area of work and which might be most effective:

• by phone

• by letter

• in person: job fairs, conferences, training courses

• social media: e.g. LinkedIn

Planning: before you make contact

Who are you going to contact?

Which organisations have the sort of position that attracts you?

Research and contact a ‘named’ person rather than a department. You are

more likely to receive a response if you contact the right person.

What is the purpose?

Be clear on what help you’re seeking.

Think about how your contact can help you – information, advice, inspiration, insights.

Would you like a meeting? In person or by phone?

How much time are you asking for?

Time and place for a meeting if you’re meeting in person.

Be prepared to fit in with their availability.

What if I don’t hear back?  Persevere –even if you don’t receive a response first time round. Ensure you follow up your initial contact.  Make sure that you have done your research thoroughly, using published sources, before you talk to your contacts.  They will respect you more and be more prepared to help if they have evidence of your professional approach.  Remember to always be polite and be prepared to also help others, as no one likes a person who always ‘takes’ but never ‘gives back’.

If you would like help writing your LinkedIn profile or with any other career-related matter, contact me on a.kinloch@dghe.ac.uk