Networking is a great life skill to learn and it’s not rocket science. You already network informally every day with your friends and family. Advertising takes up a lot of time and money for organisations so whether you’re looking for a job, an internship, work experience or voluntary work, networking could be your way in.
What is networking?
Networking is just passing on information. You network every day. When you speak to a friend you might recommend a film, a hairdresser, or a good restaurant. Just as you network in your personal life, you can use your contacts to help with looking for a job, an internship, a work experience placement or voluntary work.
You can network with anyone. You could start by talking to people you already know. Once you start, you’ll be surprised at how quickly the list of people you know gets bigger.
At first you might feel uncomfortable with the idea of making contacts to ‘get something from them’. Try to look at networking as two-way – you offer your skills and abilities in return for support and information.
You don’t need to be a very outgoing person to be a good networker. Continue to be yourself, but make sure you are enthusiastic and interested!
How to network
A good way to start networking is to:
- Make a list of who you know, which positions they hold, and who they know
- Identify your existing networks, like family, friends, friends of friends
- Have a clear idea of who you want to talk to and why you’re interested in their organisation
- Research what an organisation does and what your contact’s role there is before getting in touch
- Think about what you can offer the organisation before approaching them
- Keep a record of contacts listing everyone you’ve spoken to, their contact details and their positions
- Make good use of relevant social media channels for networking