Looking to get started in the working world but don’t know how to network? Don’t worry, we got you.
Fresh out of university and ready for a career, a lot of students are eager to dip their toes in their preferred industry – or gain some form of job experience to further their skills and become productive members of society. One of the ways you can get started is through networking.
Networking allows you to test the waters and find out key players, job scopes and first-hand experiences on the career of your interest. Despite its tendency to be daunting, networking is extremely important but rarely do fresh grads know how to effectively and efficiently do it.
Here are 5 tips on how to network effectively, especially if you’re a fresh graduate.
- Utilise Google and Social Media
Finding the right people to network and approaching them are two really difficult things, but thankfully, social media and Google make the process easier.
Platforms like Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn are great spaces to scout for key industry players. Depending on the industry, these platforms can act as a really nice introduction to different people – especially because they are already established to be more approachable than emails can be.
It can be as simple as sending a DM. You can kick start a conversation with something like:
I am [your name] and I hope you’re doing well. From your profile, I saw that you work [in your preferred industry / as your preferred job role], which is something I’m very interested in.
If you can spare a bit of time, could I reach out to you more to find out about what you do? Do let me know if you’re alright with it, and how I can contact you further. Thank you!
- Forget Your Personal Agenda
Network to get to know, not to get a job.
The thing about professional networking is that a lot of companies and potential employers already know you’re looking for a job. Especially if you’re fresh out of university.
Therefore, when you do decide to network, it’s important not to come off as one-track and desperate. Instead, extend your interests to the people you’re talking to. More often than not, they are always happy to talk about themselves (their experiences, what they do and how they got involved with the company).
Practice active listening and aim for real conversations instead. Company representatives appreciate sincerity and will open up to you the more genuine you come off. Depending on the industry, sometimes it can be small enough that people generally talk to each other, so you’d do well to set a good first impression about yourself.
- Show Your Passion in The Industry
Tallying with number 2, the way to show genuine interest is, as mentioned, ask questions and practice active listening. But more importantly, do your homework so you can prove that you’re actually interested.
What does this mean?
Understanding industry trends and, say, the top 3 companies in the industry is a great way to start. It is always helpful to know who the key companies are, their strengths, weaknesses and their values. This is so that you are able to get past the difficulty of trying to figure out what people – especially those who have been in the industry for a while – are saying and get to the good stuff. Popular industry jargons, abbreviations and other standard operating procedures are also knowledge that come in handy for when you try to assimilate yourself in conversation.
- Prepare An ‘Elevator Pitch’ of Yourself
Once you’ve recognised who you can talk to and how, you should work on preparing an ‘elevator pitch’ of yourself. An elevator pitch is essentially a 30-second speech to showcase your ‘personal brand’ that differentiates you from other graduates or candidates who are vying for the same job.
For those who have not been in corporate or with a job title, best to focus on your recent experience, what you learnt and your skills. If you have no prior job experience, focus on your strengths and what you think you can bring to the table.
- Keep In Touch
Finally, always send a Thank You note!
Once you’ve taken time off someone’s day, it’s good manners to thank them. You’d be surprised that even though this is a crucial step, it’s often overlooked when people engage in networking. After a phone call, message exchange or a coffee chat, please remember to thank the person for sharing their time and knowledge.
Take it a step further by picking out specific details that enlightened you in your conversations and reiterate it to them in your message. It can go something like this:
Thank you very much for taking the time out to talk to me about [topic]. I really appreciate it and have learnt a lot, especially on the topic of [specific anecdote] and finding out about [their experiences / what they have to say about the topic].
With this, I’m going to try and [describe a brief plan of action] and hope that you and I are able to meet again in future. Until then, will keep in touch. Take care! Best [your name]
There you go: 5 tips on how to network for not only fresh grads but also anyone looking for employment. It’s a tough world out there, but people can be kind and helpful if you know who to approach and how. With these tips, hopefully you’ll be able to navigate networking and make it a little less daunting than it can be. Best of luck to you!