What is networking?
Networking involves meeting others to make new professional contacts; these contacts can often prove especially useful when applying to jobs, or expanding your skills. Networking isn’t essential for every industry, but can be vital for some.
According to Businessinsider.com…
“Any new hire who was connected on LinkedIn with at least one current employee of the company at least six months before their start date was counted as having used their network to snag a new job.”
Social media is your friend
While platforms like Tik Tok and Instagram may not immediately strike you as professional, you'd be surprised at some of the contacts you can make and accounts that you can follow to link you to the industries and companies you're most interested in.
Recently, social media manager Zoe Williams discovered that her Tik Tok account got her a job offer as a social media manager for Selfridges. Depending on the industry you're interested in, putting yourself out there on social media can boost your career prospects.
Companies often post opportunities on their social accounts, and there are often job-specific accounts on both Tik Tok and Instagram where people in a particular industry share their experiences and routes into that job. There's no harm in reaching out to these people, even just for advice.
Just be wary of maintaining your personal accounts as private, and ensure that you're not posting anything you wouldn't want a potential employer to see.
LinkedIn is almost certainly the most well-known and potentially the best way to network online, especially given that networking events haven’t taken place in person over the past year, with lots of networking events taking place on LinkedIn. Many companies offer workshops or virtual Zoom sessions to chat to individuals at that company and industry specialists who you can get to know and find out about shared interests.
If you’re new to LinkedIn, connect with the people that you know first to start building your network - friends from school and family members if they also have LinkedIn. Make sure you get your profile ready for people to view your profile.
For more information about how to use LinkedIn effectively, click here.
If you're networking in order to find a job, then reach out to those on LinkedIn who are working in the fields you're interested in, or to those who are hiring for a role you're applying for. It will show your drive and initiative. Send a message accompanying your connect request to get the ball rolling - let them know briefly who you are and the skills/experience you have. They may not be able to help you in this instance, but you never know who they might know or be able to connect you with.
Clubhouse is the new kid on the block, but a great way to network and meet new people. It's audio only, and a very interesting new way of meeting people and hearing about others' experiences.
There are different rooms that have different titles - usually based on various topics that the room are talking about. Usually rooms are set up like a 'stage' where there is one speaker and the rest of the members are listeners, with the opportunity to 'raise their hand' to ask questions or make a point.
You should be wary of Clubhouse though due to its lack of privacy, as when you sync up your contacts, all of your Clubhouse followers can also see this list.
“Bounce around the hallways of the internet and meet incredible people.” - Clubhouse
This doesn't have to be elaborately thought out, but having a vague idea of the ways in which you're going to reach out and to who, can help you get a step ahead.
Rather than randomly reaching out to people, write a list of the companies which inspire you the most - don't be afraid to shoot for the stars. You can then use LinkedIn to find employees of those companies, and connect with them with a friendly and flattering message.
Also, note down anyone who you already know who may have contacts that are useful to you, and see if you can get in contact with them. This could be old friends, colleagues, or even teachers/lecturers.
We're going to start seeing in-person networking events resume again with the world opening back up after Covid. Follow the companies in the industries you’re interested in on LinkedIn, and see if they post any events that are of interest, virtually or in person.
Online workshops have been a fantastic medium to learn more about the industries you're interested in, and some even offer the opportunity to be interactive, asking questions, or meeting the leaders of the workshop over Zoom. You never know what contacts you could make via online events such as these.
Don't be scared to reconnect with old friends
Don’t be afraid of the ‘dormant network’ that’s already around you. Who’s a friend? And who’s a friend of a friend? If we follow the six degrees of separation, this states that every person in the world is no more than six connections away from you.
So get chatting to those already in your network about your goals and ambitions, as there might be a contact there who can be the next stepping stone in your career journey.
Don’t just connect over work
You don't want the entirety of the conversation to be non-work related, but connecting over topics like hobbies, interests and family will make you sound more interested in them as an individual. This is often far more engaging and flattering for them. Just make sure to always keep it professional!
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