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Networking isn’t just swapping business cards at cocktail parties. It’s something you can do in your everyday life to get a job. When you’re looking for work, take every opportunity to expand your network and use your contacts to find out about job vacancies.
Creating a network
Creating a network is simple, so simple that you’ve probably already started doing it without even realising.
Step 1: Talk to people about what they do.
You can talk to your relatives, your friends and their families, people you work with, teachers at school or members of clubs you belong to.
Step 2: Ask for their contact details.
When you meet someone who has similar interests or is working in the type of job you’d like to have, ask them how you can get in touch with them in the future.
Step 3: Stay in touch.
You don't have to call them every week but every now and then you could let them know if you find a website you think they’d be interested in or hear about an event they might like to go to. You could also keep them up to date on what kind of work you're doing. If you stay in touch with the people in your network you’ll be at the top of their mind when work opportunities come up.
Expanding your network
So once you’ve made a start - how do you keep it going? Here are some ways you can grow your network:
- Join your union or industry association, or at least go to some of their events
- Get to know people in your local community - talk to your neighbours, join a community group or social club
- Take every chance you have to meet new people - talk to your friends’ friends at parties, not just people you already know
Using your network
You can use your network if you want to tap into the hidden job market or if you need a reference for a job application.
You can also contact people in your network to ask for advice about their area of interest or expertise. Asking for career advice is a great excuse to get in touch with someone you’d like to work for, and it’ll flatter them to know you value what they have to say.
It’s a two-way street
Networking is not about using people to get what you want. It’s about giving as much to your contacts as they give to you.
- If you know someone who’s looking for work let them know if you hear about a job they might like
- Forward emails about work opportunities or social events to people who you think might be interested
- Whenever someone does something to help you, follow up with a short thankyou note or phone call
Networking isn't necessarily something that is hard or awkward to do. With a little practise it becomes an easy thing that comes naturally to you, and it will hopefully increase your chances of finding the job you want.