Networking is all about speaking to people and making contacts to help you in your career. These contacts may be able to help by:
- Giving you advice about your future career, including the skills you’ll need to succeed
- Sharing insights into a career path or employer
- Offering you work experience or giving you advice on how to get your foot in the door
- Signposting you to job opportunities
- Helping you to meet new contacts
Developing your network will take time and effort. Many students (and professionals) find it nerve-wracking and not everyone will be willing and able to help. It’s a good idea to start small and build your confidence (and contacts) from there.
How do I build my network?
- Start with who you know – speak to family, friends, lecturers and colleagues who may be able to help you directly, or put you in touch with someone else.
- Get involved with relevant activities and organisations, such as course-specific projects and events, local groups and professional organisations. If you’re attending an event, do some research beforehand and prepare a few questions you might like to ask.
- Social media – both LinkedIn and Twitter can be great tools for networking with professionals and employers online.
- You could also reach out to a professional or organisation by email.
- LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional networking platform. Create an online profile to promote your skills, knowledge and experience, and connect with other students, recent graduates and professionals in your field(s) of interest.
- You can also follow employers, join relevant professional groups and receive personal recommendations/endorsements from people you have worked with.
- LinkedIn’s guides for students provide advice on how to get started.
- The University of Plymouth Careers and Employability Service have also created a number of videos:
How do I use my network?
Think about what you want to achieve – do you want to talk to someone about getting work experience, learn more about their experiences, get advice or find a job?
If you’re meeting with someone to find out information, do some research in advance and prepare some questions to ask. Here are some examples:
- Tell me about your current role
- Tell me about your career path so far
- What was the recruitment process for your role?
- What type of work experience was useful to help you get your job?
- What skills are essential/useful for this sector?
- What advice could you give me about using my time at university effectively?
- Are there any recruitment agencies I could sign up with?
- Do you know anyone else who could give me advice/information?