As a first year student, networking has never been something I have previously considered, but after attending a University Careers run seminar on the subject I have realised its high importance. With around 70% of jobs not being formally advertised, networking has never been more essential. Networking is a proven way to build relationships, and trust, with possible employers, helping you to ultimately find that perfect job. It truly is not what you know, but who you know.
But how do you start networking?
1. Be patient
Networking takes time, and is not a 'quick-fix' to finding a job. It's about building relationships and gaining the trust and confidence of contacts that can refer you to employers. It takes time and effort, but can be the perfect way to present yourself, as well as offering a much better alternative to 'cold calling'.
2. Linked In
Join Linked In (www.linkedin.com) as a starting point. With Linked In you can get linked to both individuals and groups relevant to your chosen career, and through this you can work to find out how they developed their own careers.
3. Be remembered
Face to face situations are always preferable, as the person you are speaking to is much more likely to remember you that way. Business cards are also a great way to do this, as well as making you look more professional!
4. Start at your University
Universities are sure to be overflowing with academics, contacts and previous students who have experience and other contacts in your interested fields. Talk to academics, ask questions, and most importantly use your career services! The University of Liverpool's Career and Employability service offers regular seminars on networking throughout the year for both undergraduates and graduates, as well employer presentations and recruitment fairs. All of which are the perfect place to start building relationships and contacts.
5. Do your research
To successfully network you need to know who to talk to, what to ask, and how to get into contact with them. Throughout the UK there are many business network events and conferences which offer an opportunity for meeting employers and field experts who would be invaluable contacts. Information on these events can be found on websites like findnetworkingevents.com. Moreover, doing research is an important part of preparation before any networking situation. You need to know the right questions to ask, as well as preparing for questions you will be asked. Take CVs with you, and be prepared to show your sector knowledge.
6. Be confident and polite
Have a confident handshake, maintain good eye contact, be polite, ask 'May I join you', and introduce yourself. And don't forget to listen, ask questions and show an interest in the person you are conversing with, as well as remembering their names! Furthermore, make sure you exude confident body language, as well as noticing other peoples. For example, if they are in a 'closed group', do not approach them.
Although all of these points can seem scary and daunting, networking is a reliable way to make yourself stand out as a potential employee in whatever business or field you are interested in, leading you in the direction of your dream career!