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Networking is one of the most essential career development and job search tools that is often overlooked by students and job hunters. Networking involves developing and maintaining connections with individuals, then mutually benefitting from this developed relationship. In relation to career development, a well-developed network provides you with a support system of individuals who can provide meaningful assistance to you as it may relate to your career/industry exploration, connections to other individuals and learning about potential job openings.

Networking should be approached as an ongoing process that takes time and nurturing, and not something you do just when you are looking for a job. It is important to remember that networking is a two way process in which you provide beneficial support to those in your network as well. Expanding your contacts can open doors to new opportunities for business, career advancement, personal growth, or simply new knowledge.

Active networking helps to keep you top of mind when opportunities such as job openings arise and increases your likelihood of receiving introductions to potentially relevant people or even a referral. By continually putting yourself out there and meeting new people, you’re effectively stepping outside your comfort zone and building invaluable social skills and self-confidence that you can take with you anywhere.

The more you network, the more you’ll grow and learn how to make lasting connections. In this video, Michelle Gibbings, an expert at helping organisations, teams, and individuals to build their capabilities in core competencies, talks about the power of networking.

What you can do next

  1. An elevator brief is a short, persuasive speech that you can use to spark interest in who you are. This is particularly useful when connecting with others within a networking environment. You can learn more on the Elevator Pitch feature
  2. Online social networking has become the fastest growing form of networking amongst professionals, job seekers and emerging leaders. Some beneficial sites to utilise include:
    • LinkedIn – Linkedin is a business-oriented social networking site mainly used for professional networking.
    • Facebook – In addition to finding friends, members can also join professional groups and connect with other group members. Many organisations have career-oriented pages focused on providing information to job seekers and professionals.
    • Twitter – Twitter is a social networking and micro-blogging service that enables its users to send and read messages.
  3. Many organisations post job opportunities and events through tweets Meetup (www.meetup.com) is a platform for finding and building networks with like-minded people. There may be many opportunities to connect with local groups who share similar passions and vocational goals or who may be able to help you to build up the skills you need to seek employment.
  4. Here are some other tips from experts on how to network effectively.
    • “Hope is not a plan. I hope I get into that class, I hope I pass, I hope I graduate etc. You need a plan of action to achieve your academic goals and it is the same with networking. You should set a strategy for what you want to achieve and who you need to meet to get you there” What is your strategy? Do you have one? Who are the people who may help them to get there?
    • There are meetups, events, conferences and online opportunities for people to connect and many of them are free. Are you going to any of these to help you connected with like-minded people? If not why not? Some great spaces to find these opportunities include Meetups.com and even Facebook Events. You can also register to receive newsletters from those organisations or groups that you are interested in as they often include opportunities for networking or information about events.
    • Always follow up. Just getting a connection, swapping contact details is not enough. Email them after the event to say thank you, or nice to meet you, or let’s catch up for coffee. This will enable the relationship to build and grow.