Why should you spend time networking? Two reasons: the first is to learn more about the day-to-day tasks and routines of the role you want to pursue. If you do not know what kind of work you want to do, talking to people in jobs that you’re thinking of applying for can help you narrow down your options. You might just find that those jobs or companies that sound amazing on paper, are just not for you. On the other hand you might discover a job or company that fits your personality, work style and values far better than any other you might have considered in the first place.
Secondly, networking is often the best way to hear about those jobs that are not advertised. These are jobs that more often than not are filled by networks of professionals. Without the ability to network successfully you are far more likely to miss out on these opportunities. Networking is now a crucial job searching skill that you should be employing to plan and further your career.
It’s never too late to network, and it’s never been easier to keep in touch with your university friends and acquaintances. While at university make sure you don’t miss the opportunity to build and solidify your student network. And we don’t mean just make friends for the sake of building contacts. You never know where your university friends will go when they leave, and how you might be able to help each other in the future.
1. Start early – don’t leave it till the last minute
Two things you definitely shouldn’t be doing: leaving it until you desperately need a job to begin contacting Alumni, and contacting Alumni to ask for preferential treatment, for example when a job is advertised and you want to apply for it. It’s really important to start networking before you need anything: networking is all about making a genuine connection, not to try and leverage a connection to gain an unfair advantage. Alumni contacts are not built overnight, and are definitely not built by cold calling about a specific job. Instead of asking for something your fellow Alumnus probably can’t provide (a job), ask for something they can provide that’s far more valuable to you – advice.
2. Use Linkedin’s Alumni tool
Recently revamped, LinkedIn’s Alumni tool helps you explore Alumni career paths from more than 22,000 colleges and universities worldwide, using its database of more than 300 million members. It’s a powerful way to kickstart your Alumni networking efforts, so we’ve put together a comprehensive guide on how to use Linkedin’s Alumni tool.
It’s LinkedIn time again. Virtually every university in the world has a Linkedin group dedicated to Alumni. Go to the Groups Directory and search for the name of the university you attended. Once you’re a member, browse the group’s Discussions, Members and Jobs for networking opportunities. You might want to join a discussion around a specific industry, comment on an article someone has posted or introduce yourself to the Group Manager, who is often a representative of the Alumni Association and usually a very connected person! Something you should consider is to start your own discussion, perhaps posting an article or posing a question to group members. One great way of starting the ball rolling is introducing yourself to the group.
More often than not the same Alumni group you follow on Linkedin will also use other social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook. Different people feel comfortable with using different channels, so by using multiple social media sites you will give yourself a better chance of networking with the right people. Not only that, but with Twitter you also get to see who other Alumni follow, what topics they are interested in and what issues are close to their hearts. This is a very valuable source of information and will certainly help in discovering whether a certain job, company or industry will fit your interests, personality and work style.
4. Use your University’s networks
Most universities will have an internal social networking tool designed just for this: helping to keep Alumni in touch with each other (as well as other reasons, such as fundraising and so on). Make sure you keep you profile up to date, as well as subscribe to event emails. It’s really easy to forget to update your email address in all your social media profiles should you change it, but you never know when you might need the help of your network!
5. Attend Alumni events
Make sure you attend as many Alumni association networking events as you can, and ask your careers service for Alumni who have put themselves forward to act as mentors. At events a simple introduction where you disclose that you’re looking for a job in a particular industry or type of business, and whether he or she has any advice about that industry will go a long way.
6. Find yourself a mentor
Easy to say, very difficult to do, but invaluable in terms of what you will gain from the experience. It’s worth remembering that mentoring relationships don’t have to be formal: a manager you had from a placement or internship, or an Alumnus you met at a networking event. The trick is to keep in touch on a regular basis, and as a mentee being appreciative of the time and effort your mentor is investing: any productive mentor/mentee relationship adds value for both parties.
7. Follow up
It’s vitally important to follow up with any of the Alumni you contact or meet. Send a thank you email as soon as possible after your meeting or conversation. Always try and follow up with additional emails if, for example, you have taken their advice on something and have an outcome to report such as contacting someone they recommended or reading an article they suggested. This helps keep the communication channel open and provide you with a further reason to get in touch in the future should you need to.
At Enterprise we don’t discriminate based on the University you attended, or the subject you studied. This means that we recruit from a really wide variety of universities. Chances are, there is probably somebody in your Alumni network that works at Enterprise. Why not get in touch with them? In the meantime, you can browse all our graduate jobs available to find one in your local area.