Why for students, it’s never too early to think about networking (and how to do it well)

04/04/2017

Right now you’re probably thinking ‘networking’? Don’t you mean social networking? Not that thing that senior established business people do?

Well actually, networking is a skill that can pay off much earlier in your life than you think, boosting your confidence, connections and career chances.

Still dubious? We asked Dave Cordle, an expert Career Development Coach with a great success in working with and motivating young people, what he thinks. And this was his response.

Dave Cordle, Career Development Coach

First of all, let’s put some myths about networking to bed.

  1. Networking is just about social media, connecting with friends and keeping up with their latest antics.
  2. Networking just happens online.
  3. Networking is only useful if you’re running a business.
  4. Face-to-face networking is great for meeting people but it’s a waste of time because nothing ever comes from it – and how much coffee can you really drink anyway?

LIES! Networking is a key, and I mean key, skill in creating success as you start your career and as you build it. Whether employed or self-employed (and you may be both during your career), starting to build your network now will make a big difference to your success when you finish your studies.

 

Five top tips for being a successful networker, now

1) Focus consistently on what you want and be sure of the outcome you want before you start. So whether you’re creating or developing your online presence, or going to a career fair, have an objective. What do you want to happen and what impression do you want to create and how is it going to help you to get where you want to get? 

Taking attending a careers fair as an example, do you want to connect with a particular employer? Narrow down your choice of careers? Find out as much as possible about studying for a postgraduate degree? Your aim will dictate everything; from you research, your preparation and questions and even how you dress on the day.

2) Build your online brand. 

What do you want to be known for, especially by future employers? Highlight your skills and achievements that evidence those skills

What don’t you want to be known for?  Manage your privacy settings on all your social media channels.

3) Be in the right places online:

mybrink.com is designed to help you connect with employers as a graduate and start building your brand

get on as many other job sites and forums as possible, the higher your profile, the more likely you are to get noticed.

4) When you’re going to live network events, don’t chat with people you already know (you can do that after and compare notes):

Introduce yourself to new people

Take an interest in what they do first. Be aware of any opportunities where you might be able to help them.

Know what information you’re looking for – people you speak to might be able to help you directly or introduce you to someone who can

Afterwards, follow up with people you meet, even if it’s just to say “good to meet you”

5) Think about what you may want to do beyond education and use networks to help you.

Who do you know who either does what you might want to do, or could introduce you to that person (think parents, friends, friends’ parents, teachers, mentors, social media connections, etc, etc)

Go and speak with them. 

  • What’s good about their job? 
  • What’s bad about it?
  • What are the key skills and qualities that employers look for in someone doing that job? This will inform your CV, online profiles and other job market/business collateral you produce.
  • Who else can they introduce you to who can help you further your research?
  • Who can help you secure work experience or a placement?

If you do this right, by the time you leave university or college you could have a useful and relevant network who already know, like, and trust you. And who will therefore be more likely to employ you if they have opportunities, or introduce you to someone who can.

Your success isn’t random. It’s up to you to create it.

Dave Cordle is a Career Development Coach and since 2001 has worked with thousands of people across a wide variety of industries and at all levels from shop floor to board room and with business owners. 

www.davecordle.co.uk