Networking. How does it make you feel when you hear the word? Excitement? Dread? Uncertainty? A few different words will spring to mind, and perhaps a few butterflies in your stomach too!
The idea of networking can be something to look forward to; in fact (dare we say it) networking can even be a fun experience and there are so many ways you can network according to your personal preferences.
In essence, networking means talking to other people. People in your network will include your family, friends of the family, course mates, as well as people you don’t know yet!
How can networking help you?
In a career and job-hunting context, networking can be a great way to get an insight into different roles and companies as well as finding out what opportunities are available.
You can gain insights into individual’s career journeys as well. This can help you to think about what you want your future career to look like and how you could get there.
Networking is also an opportunity for you to share your own experiences and knowledge and to begin refining your brand.
Opportunities for networking
From Careers Fairs to coffee shops, networking can happen in lots of places both online and face to face. You’re probably doing this daily without even realising it, at your society meetings or perhaps at our careers webinars.
LinkedIn is a platform designed especially for this and University of Surrey student Krystyna explains how you can use this platform to develop your network here.
SurreyConnects is an online space where you can browse former Surrey students to find those who have been in your shoes and are now working in their chosen industries. You can then chat with them through the secure platform, asking questions about their careers and getting the best tips and advice as you start to consider your options after completing your programme.
Sign up online now using your LinkedIn account or personal email address to start your search for the perfect mentor.
Tips for networking
Sometimes unhelpful thoughts can hold us back from effectively networking if you find it a bit nerve wracking. Here are some helpful pointers:
- Think about your introduction
Simply introduce yourself with a “Hi, how are you?” This may be an obvious point but it’s important to highlight that this is a natural way to begin conversations even in a formal networking setting.
You can then follow this with questions such as, “What do you do?” or if they’re a fellow student “What subject are you studying?”
- Ask for advice to gain insights
Asking someone for advice is not only a great way to get them talking, but they’re also likely to open up to you more if you show that you’re genuinely interested in their opinion and experiences.
Ask questions such as: “How did you get into this industry?” and “What do you like about it?” then relate this to something personal. This can make you less nervous as well, as people like talking about themselves!
- Tell them about yourself
What are your business interests? What are your goals? What projects are you proud of? – a business relationship is reciprocal, and you can exchange information and ideas.
- Use LinkedIn
Make a positive impact after your meeting or event by sending them a tailored LinkedIn request shortly after your interaction.
This is a good way to build your network and can help you to maintain the connections you make throughout your career. So, whether it’s at a professional networking event or a society meeting, think about how you can optimise your interactions with people to gain knowledge and start growing your network.