Today, we are about to look into professional networking: its signification, essential tips that will make a difference when making contacts, and the benefits of having an extensive network. Let’s get started!
What is professional networking? Professional networking involves building long-term and short-term relationships with different professionals to gain and exchange industry knowledge that will benefit your career. To be a good networker, it is important to interact and engage with other professionals regularly. This is done in order to build a community of reliable professional contacts who you can reach out to in-person, on the phone, and online for any career-related queries that you may have, including job opportunities! Building a strong network of professional contacts should open doors to new opportunities and key industry knowledge!
When it comes to networking, there isn’t a strict rule about who you should or shouldn’t be networking with. To be completely honest, the more people you network with, the better, so don’t limit yourself! You may choose to network with people you already know; school friends, colleagues, teachers, family, etc. or you may choose to meet new people at different types of networking events! Even if you choose to connect with someone not in your industry, they may know a relevant person that they can connect you with or about an opportunity that may be relevant to you…
Although networking may seem like a scary prospect, it’s important to consider the variety of desirable skills that you will gain from networking in your job search...
Some of these websites are also great for networking in general, rather than just professional networking. Any of you who are planning to make that move abroad, try out the websites listed above to meet international people with the same interests as you. This type of networking makes becoming an expat a lot easier. Some networking events include language exchange evenings, food tasting, and more!
Networking as a student
University is the best time to start building your network. You're literally surrounded by people studying the same thing you do, who might end up working in the same industry as you later on. More than that, you are probably friends with students from other courses, so use that time to make connections with all the doctors, computer programmers, and lawyers out there! Who knows, one day you might just thank yourself for connecting with Tom from Marketing after that one party you went together to, when you happen to be living in the same city and your company needs a good advertising strategy.
Every university offers a wide range of networking events, too. Career fairs, job centre workshops, company presentations, panels - sign up for as many of them as you can! They are usually organised at times when they won't collide with your classes during the day or parties in the evenings. In case you have a part-time job, there is always enough of them scattered throughout the year to make sure that something will certainly fit into your busy schedule.
Even after you graduate and are looking for a job online - when you see that an alumnus from your university is listed as an employee, you will be able to reach out to them and gain some insights on the company and the work itself! We are 100% sure they will be happy to help out a fellow student who happened to have graduated a few years later. Believe it or not, sooner than you think, you will become feeling very wistful about your student years and will appreciate every connection that will bring you back to the time of your life, even for a minute.
Tip: When you add your university to the Education section on LinkedIn, fellow students and alumni will automatically start appearing as suggested connections. Our advice? Connect, connect, connect! Even if you've never seen Meghan from Creative Writing, send that invitation. Think about it that way: whichever sector you end up working in 15 years from now, when you receive inquiries from two different people but you only have the time to help out one: who would you choose? Meghan from Creative Writing who graduated the same year as you from the same uni, or a random Sarah whom you have nothing in common with? Well, it works both ways, so go update your LinkedIn profile and send out those invitations now!
Although it sounds obvious, it’s important to engage properly with the other person, listen clearly to what they have to say. The knowledge and information they share with you could be particularly beneficial for you and your career, so why waste the opportunity to gain more knowledge!
A great way of displaying your interest and enthusiasm is to ask questions related to the industry/topic. This not only shows how well you were listening but also proves that you have a genuine interest in what the other person is talking about and displays your strong communication skills.
Even if that particular individual may not be beneficial to your career at this moment in time, they might be in the future! By exchanging numbers, connecting on LinkedIn, or exchanging emails, you make it easier to reconnect with that person in the future.
Keep a special journal or file on your computer designated just for collecting your connections' contact details - don't lose it! If you are the organised type, you can categorise them according to industry, date, or the place where you've obtained them. If not - just make sure you know what's going on in your notes, please.
Just like most activities, the more you practice, the easier it gets! Get out of your comfort zone, attend different career-related events, speak to people from different levels of seniority and various backgrounds. You never know who you may meet and in the end, you might enjoy networking more than you imagined!
While networking may be the worst nightmare for those of you with fear of speaking in public or are just simply nervous to approach new people, networking is one of the most crucial parts of your job-seeking process here are the main reasons why...
With life becoming as busy as it is nowadays, where are the places you can meet people for business purposes besides your workplace? We recommend attending seminars, business networking events, and just generally looking out for any career-related events and workshops in your industry. Who attends these events? Successful business people, recruiters, business owners of small to large businesses, entrepreneurs... One of them might be the key connection that you have been looking for! The person you meet could introduce you to exciting opportunities, business ventures, offers of employment, investment opportunities, and more! The chances are that the valuable connections you make there will help you in your long-term business endeavors.
Networking events can be the best source of industry knowledge that you can get your hands on. The people you will meet there are relevant to your industry and generally interested in networking too. They can give you invaluable insight on industry trends, share their own experiences, provide you with job search tips, and maybe even be able to share key contacts within the industry! Think of it as a learning tool - if you approach it the right way, it will help you go that step further up on the career ladder.
In order to succeed as an entrepreneur, you need to get out there to share your ideas and insights with other professionals. For those of you that want to start your own business, communication is key! The connections that you build earlier on can have a significant impact on the success of your business and career. You may network with investors, companies looking for partners, or just simply an array of new ideas! Networking events are simply a must for entrepreneurs!
All in all, networking is great for your personal branding and for building a strong reputation in your industry. From the connections that you make, the industry knowledge that you soak up, to the tips and tricks you learn from industry specialists, these all add value to your personal brand and help to guide you in the right direction for your job search and your career. From the way that you present and carry yourself to how well you listen and converse with other professionals, the personal and professional skills that you will develop from networking are extremely beneficial for your career!
It’s time to get out there and start networking, step outside your comfort zone, and see what opportunities are available. By networking at this stage in your application process, you will be able to work on your communication skills before your interviews, build confidence in yourself, and improve your capabilities. By networking during your free time, your motivation and eagerness to learn and meet new people will impress potential employers! As we mentioned, networking doesn't have to just be for work purposes, it's also a great activity for those of you who are planning to or have already moved abroad, make sure you check out the networking websites above to immerse yourself in the new destination and culture.
Tomorrow we make sure you make the right choice of company for you. Viktoria Galitsi, an expert career coach, will be our special guest and she will be answering the question: “How to Choose the Right Company for you’. Stay tuned!