Written by Madeline Whitting
Having a well-established network has become vital and is becoming one of the most important factors in finding a job. The simplest way to grow your network is to build on the relationships with people you know – your family, friends, classmates, colleagues and acquaintances. Studies have shown that over 80% of jobs are never advertised and therefore it can be assumed that many internships are never promoted either. A good networking strategy can help you to uncover these undiscovered opportunities.
There are a few tips –
Before meeting connections
1. Attend a professional networking event
The best career investment you can do now is to go to networking events. It will help you to keep up with the changing trends in the workplace as well as meet corporate executives and entrepreneurs who can give you job leads or serve as your mentors. When choosing events to attend, do your research first and be selective. Be on the lookout for events that will enable you the greatest chance of meeting potential employers.
2. Attend career fairs
These kinds of fairs allow you to connect with potential employers as well as possibly finding a job opportunity that suits you. Meeting face-to-face is instrumental in creating connections and gives you an opportunity to impress the person, more than a resume does. However, before you attend a career fair, be sure to research who is exhibiting, make copies of your resume and prepare a quick “tell me about yourself” spiel.
Check out the QUT website to check if there are any upcoming fairs in your industry.
3. Attend industry presentations
Industry events can provide opportunities that you simply can’t get elsewhere. Listening to industry experts, can teach you new skills, best practices and ways to achieve long-term success . This is a good opportunity to strike conversation with these professionals after their speeches and create an interesting, industry relevant conversation that will set you apart from your peers.
4. Leverage social media platform LinkedIn
The most obvious task is to have a complete, up-to-date LinkedIn Profile that provides a small bio, profile picture and details your previous employment, professional skills! Use the site to connect with previous and current connections, as well as find new people to add to your ever-expanding network. Keep your profile active, through sharing articles and offering your academic opinion on the subject to further establish your identity.
After initial connection
The key to connecting with an industry professional is to be a conversationalist – don’t do all the talking, make sure you’re also listening. If you do all the talking, the person may feel you are uninterested in what they have to say and unsure what action to take with the information you have supplied. Consider asking questions like ‘how long have you been with this company?’ ‘What sort of previous experience did you have to reach your position?’,
6. Ask for further suggestions on how to expand your network
When networking, you don’t just want to connect with one or two people, but tap into a whole group of people in your field. Ask your contacts if they can recommend a professional organisation or the names of some of the people you should be talking with. Gaining a connection to one professional, can lead you to a quick increase in your network through opportunities of being referred to others in their personal networks.
7. Follow up
Create a reason to keep the relationship going beyond the networking or professional event. If you want to establish rapport with the other person, follow up with an email or a LinkedIn request to ask to keep in touch soon after meeting. A possible opportunity is to find an article relating to the discussion you had, and email it to them with your thoughts on the article. Make sure to keep the connection going, to show you value them through comments on their posts, sharing valuable career information, or simply asking how they are.
Being a media and communications university student myself, I fully understand it is hard to see how your career journey will begin. As you hear from everyone, it is who you know that matters when making these first advancements. Through developing relationships and connections within your industry, you will ultimately have more opportunities to advance your career. Attending social events hosted by businesses in your field and getting internships where possible, is a great way to connect with people in the industry.