Networking is one of the biggest professional buzzwords around and there’s a reason for it – it works! It builds relationships and, in a professional sense, is a tool for furthering your career.
To make the most of networking opportunities, you need to put yourself out there. This can be daunting at first, but with an open attitude and a good dose of confidence the benefits will soon start flowing in.
The great thing for students is that university is an easy and organic place to start building your professional network. Studying alongside like-minded, career driven individuals, with a passion for your industry, provides a ready list of professional contacts that you can call on down the track.
Embrace the opportunity by finding out more about your peers. What are their plans for the future? Where do they see their degree taking them? Have they got a career plan in place?
Listening to someone else may help guide you in a new direction, confirm thinking you already have about your future, or provide insights and a different perspective of an old way of looking at things.
Remember, networking is a two way street – initiate meaningful conversations that you can engage in at a personal level that are mutually beneficially, as well as enjoyable.
Another great networking source at university is the teaching staff. Generally they have worked or still work in the industry they are teaching, so have contacts and experience of their own to share.
Requesting advice is a lot easier than asking for help to find a job, so use the opportunity and exposure to these individuals to build your own knowledge. These relationships may lead to these experienced and connected individuals becoming your sponsor or mentor, or at the very least the possibility of listing them as a reference on your CV.
As you grow your contacts and knowledge base don’t forget to keep your digital footprint updated.
LinkedIn recently made it a lot easier for students to connect. If you haven’t already, create a profile and fill out your digital CV. After that add those teachers and studying peers you’ve built up relationships with.
By preparing yourself as early as possible, you will have a leg up on your competition when it comes to getting into your chosen career. If you’re getting close to graduation check out SEEK’s New Grad Guide to Networking for some great tips.
Need a little more advice? Get in contact with Swinburne University of Technology’s Centre for Career Development for more career building guidance.