Looking for graduate jobs? As a graduate or a current university student, you may not be entirely aware of the benefits of networking, nor had any inclination to take action. However, a recent survey reported a 33% increase in the volume of graduate applications this year and therefore becoming more important to know how to network effectively and to start doing this as early as possible.
Step 1: It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you
You may still be a student, but the best time to begin networking is when you are still at university. Your campus is a great environment to meet many new people. Make sure you attend events such conferences, talks, society events etc as there may be useful contacts there. For instance, at my university they often held business talks with many speakers locally and across the country – these were brilliant opportunities for students to connect with professionals in the industry they wanted to enter. The idea here is not to ‘ask’ for a job, just to find out information that can help you in your job hunt. Perhaps their colleagues are interested in certain things you do or they may simply be able to help with a society you help to run. If you have graduated, then you can still attend alumni events but there are plenty of other formal networking opportunities not affiliated with universities. As an example, you can use social media networks such as LinkedIn to search for events in your local area, for contacts within certain groups you have joined or for specific people in a company that interests you. Finding graduate jobs is all about drawing positive attention to yourself and becoming an active member of these social media networking sites will help you do just that.
Step 2: Managing your networks
So, now what? It is important to realise that you are not going to get a job within your network just like that. You need to manage your network in order to see the long term benefits. Again, tools such as LinkedIn are a great way to keep your network updated on your activities. I am not suggesting messaging them every day with your goings on, as this is likely to gain you a negative reputation. Instead contact them every so often to let them know you are still around. However, it is also important to identify key parts of your network that may be useful. This could be anyone, from family members and friends of the family to people you do not know well. You may be surprised how many people you know and how they can help you.
Step 3: Establish Informal meetings
However, do not assume that your weaker ties are not worth pursuing and strengthening, I managed to obtain a meeting through one of my weaker links within my network after taking time to build a relationship. I gained a formal interview a few weeks afterwards, simply by making sure they were still aware of my existence, so it is worth putting the effort in. Once you have started to build a relationship with people you have met through networking events or within social media sites, then there is no harm in asking to meet informally. Use this to ask for tips about a particular sector, or simply to discuss various online topics offline, it is just a way of making sure they get to know the real you better which may lead to something, without specifically asking for a job. I made sure I met various people before and after university which lead to several meet ups, these are people I am still regularly in contact with.
If you take advantage of using your network whilst taking the time to develop it early on, you may find yourself in a better position and part of the 40% of graduates that believe they will start a graduate job upon graduating.