Many people, including employers, recommend networking as a good way of getting to know people, finding out about opportunities, and keeping in the loop so you are always abreast of latest developments. The vast majority of employers in our Graduate Success research study agreed that students needed to develop and use effective networking skills whilst at university. So what exactly is networking?
Networking sounds more complex than it actually is. It is basically ensuring that you get the most from any encounters that you have with people who might be able to help you in the future. There are a few basic principles including:
- finding out in advance about who is likely to be at events you are attending
- researching them and their organisation so that you are informed and knowledgeable
- thinking about what you will say to them and how you will deal with them
- always being polite, respectful and making a good impression
- if they cannot help you directly, asking them if they have any advice or further contacts
- ensuring that you leave your contact details and collect theirs
- considering how you might also be able to help them in return
- following contacts up afterwards to thank them
Networking is a technique that becomes easier with practice and your first attempts will probably leave you feeling slightly embarrassed. Persevere and you will improve - your approaches to people will seem more natural and you will feel more comfortable and relaxed.
Remember also that useful networking sites such as LinkedIn can help you to network online as well!
Further help & information
- It was really useful talking to a recent graduate
- Employers look for well rounded graduates
- Working abroad for a year
- Achieved graduate job from my part-time work
- Academic staff had really good industry links
- Careers fairs provide a great opportunity to talk to employers
- Subject department helped organise summer internship
- Took advantage of university equipment
- Use dissertation to impress employers
- Used contacts to organise a work placement
- Degree subject was the most important part of my university experience