Networking

 

If approached in the right way, networking can be both a fun and powerful career management tool.  It can help you:

  • Get advice on what your best approach should be for a particular job
  • Gain access to the hidden job market
  • Get feedback on your CV
  • Learn the ‘inside story’ - on a job, organisation or sector
  • And, for many, the proactive networking approach often leads to an actual job

Develop your own strategy

Consider your networking goals:

  • Do you want to find out more about what a particular career involves?
  • Are you hoping to meet someone who can offer you a job?
  • Are you looking for a career change?
  • Do you want to develop new skills, knowledge and experience?
  • Are you seeking support?
  • Do you want to develop new skills, knowledge and experience?
  • Are you seeking support?
  • Do you want to increase your professional contacts?

Once you have established your networking goals, consider the individuals (or organisations) that are best placed to help you.

The main thing to remember is that you already have a wide range of contacts and belong to number of different networks. Here is a list of potential targets for contacts:

Peers, neighbours, friends and family, departmental, academic and careers staff, industrial and professional bodies, trade journals, vacancy pages, careers directories, newspaper articles, employer websites & conferences

Step 1: Brainstorm all the networks to which you belong.

Step 2: Make a list of all the individuals you know within the identified groups. Many of the individuals you note down will not be able to help you directly, but will have access to additional networks with people who can help you.

Step 3: In addition, consider people with whom you have no connection, but are still potential sources of advice and information (e.g. professional associations). Think creatively about where and in what context you could potentially meet such contacts; attend conferences and trade fairs.

 

Advice

A successful networking campaign needs to combine good communication skills (especially interpersonal skills) and planning.

There are a number of skills needed for effective networking, including:

Listening skills, initiation skills (e.g. initiating a conversation with a stranger), presenting yourself well, being focused, asserting yourself positively, asking good questions & the ability to listen to spoken and unspoken messages

Assert yourself positively

  • Be clear about what you want - bear in mind that people generally want to help if they can
  • Be positive about the reasons you are contacting them – people like to be flattered
  • Don’t apologise for asking for help; open with a firm handshake and warm smile

Ask good questions

Make your questions short, simple and specific. For example:

Your website describes the culture at KLP as ………. What has that meant in practice for your work there?

Last week I was reading in the FT that the …… sector is going to go through its own ‘Big Bang.’ What might the implications be for your firm / department?

Present yourself well

  • You only have one chance to make a first impression
  • What messages are you giving with how you present yourself?
  • How do you walk, sit, stand or shake hands?
  • How do you use your voice?
  • Dress for "where you want to get to"

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