A students guide to networking

Alexa - Jane

By YEUK Ambassador Alexa Moore

Hearing the words ‘it’s who you know, not what you know,’ numerous times throughout university life has made me ponder. Who do I actually know? Well, I am that average Jo!Alexa - Jane

I have put together an easy guide to networking: the dos and the don’ts. With 60% of jobs occurring in what they call the ‘hidden job market,’ networking is essential.

Dos

  • Attend networking events – while this may be stating the obvious, you would be surprised how many students/graduates avoid networking events due to pre-misconceptions. Networking does not have to be a butterfly inducing, knee shaking situation.
  • Know who are you seeing/commercial awareness/approach the right people- this could all role into one, under the broader title of ‘doing your research’ but I thought I would split it up to show that research shouldn’t be a quick five minutes on Wikipedia!
  • Prepare a 30 second elevator pitch-People at networking events can be extremely busy and bombarded with people wanting to speak to them. If this is the case ask the employer something about themselves followed by a short (e.g. 30 second) pitch about who you are, what you want and what you can bring to their organisation.”
  •  Business cards – I have been in numerous situations where people have asked me for my business card and I haven’t had one. I like to use Moocards. They give me the opportunity to give a recruiter something with an image that show my personality and plus if it is pretty it is something the recruiter is more likely to keep!
  • Connect with people you meet on social media/follow up– if a recruiter gives you their business card you have impressed them. Business cards=gold dust.

Don’ts

  • Never offer people your business card unless they ask for it-well, I think this one speaks for itself. If a person wants your business card they will ask for it. If not, yours will end up in the bin. Think of all those trees and pounds you will be wasting!
  • Cut to the chase too quickly /Interrupt other people’s conversations/don’t get drunk-again this could be put under one heading of ‘remember you are in public and you should have manners’ but I thought I would be more polite!
  • Forget to introduce yourself- Rebecca Fielding, MD and Owner, Gradconsult notes that “most people forget to introduce themselves and say a bit about who they are.”
  • Don’t speak to anyone/waste opportunities– Francesca Evers, People Business Partner at Virgin Management notes that “some people can be shy; networking is a chance to meet new people and have fun.”
  • Start with “I’ve read your blog, LinkedIn profile (etc, etc) and I went to the same school as your kids’ as this can come off as a little stalker’ish, rather than well-researched” (Rebecca Fielding, MD and Owner, Gradconsult). Again, I think this one speaks for itself. There is a fine line between well-researched/keen and creepy!

So have I convinced you that networking is something that you could do in the future? With the graduate market still tough the words ‘it’s who you know, not what you know’ resonate with me and should be with you!

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