Networking isn't just swapping business cards at cocktail parties. It's something you can do in your everyday life.
If you’re looking for work, try to take every opportunity to expand your network and to use your contacts to find out about job vacancies.
Creating a network
Creating a network is simple. You've probably already started doing it without even realising. Here's how:
Step 1: Talk to people about what they do
Asking people about where they work and what they do can help you to understand the kind of options that are out there. Some suggestions for people to talk to include:
- Your family
- Your friends and their families
- People you work with
- Teachers at school
- Members of clubs you belong to
Step 2: Ask for their contact details
If you meet someone who has the same interests to you, or who works in the type of job you're interested in, ask them if they'd be okay passing on their contact details - their email, their phone number, their online profiles - and if they'd be cool with you getting in touch with them in the future.
Expanding your network
Once you've started developing a network, there are some simple ways to keep it growing:
- Get to know people in your local community - talk to your neighbours, join a community group or social club
- Do some volunteering in the area you're interested in
- Take every chance you have to meet new people - talk to your friends' friends at parties, not just people you already know
- Join your union or industry association and go to some of their events or information nights
Using your network
You don't have to contact the people in your network every week, but it's good to stay in contact with them. 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
If you stay in touch with the people in your network it's more likely they'll think of you if they hear about an opportunity for you.
Online networking is another way to find out more about the kind of jobs and careers that are out there, and to make contact with people who are interested in the same things as you.
It gets easier with practise
Networking isn't necessarily something that's hard or awkward to do. With a little practise it becomes easier, more natural and hopefully increases your chances of finding the job you want.