5 ways to build your network as a Graduate

It takes more than the ability to smash through a degree on little more than cask wine and two-minute noodles if you want to impress any prospective employers.

Impressive is redefined in the working world. Qualifications are merely a criteria, not the criteria for getting your foot in the door somewhere. In this dog-eat-dog concrete jungle, your ability to network is where the money is – for you and your employer.

If you read my article on stepping up your game so your not left behind, you know why networking is so important. In summary, getting where you want to mean venturing outside your cave and meeting people… but then what?

Exchanging names and numbers is only the beginning. Network connections are like Tamagotchi Friends. If you neglect them, they die.

Here are some tips and tricks to assist with feeding your networking Tamagotchi:

  1. Use social media – get involved in online forums, have a presence and use LinkedIn and Twitter. It sounds tedious, and It does take the time to build up a strong profile, but it really is worth putting in the effort. Comment, like and have an opinion on articles others have posted. It’s ok to have a voice online, just use your common sense when doing so. i.e., serving up some ruthless ‘Mean Tweets’ on Justin Bieber might earn you 5 seconds of fame on Jimmy Kimmel Live at best, but it’s not constructive.
  2. Join a club/society/association and actively participate in events, social gatherings and meet and greets –  This isn’t just for career purposes. Building a support network, and getting involved in things you genuinely care about is not only a great way to network, it’s also an enjoyable pursuit.
  3. Reach out to people – you have nothing to lose by emailing a few questions to someone who inspires you or catching up for a coffee with a new contact. It can be uncomfortable to front foot meet ups, but the worst anyone will say is no. Generally, people are thrilled to be asked or invited.
  4. Follow up – don’t expect to meet someone once and think “job done”. A relationship needs to be fostered. Your new found connections may also only have recently emerged from their caves and need a little probing.
  5. Don’t be afraid to request an introduction –  There is no need to feel embarrassed about asking for a helping hand to arrange a meetup. It can be a lot easier than trying to think up creative ways to ‘bump’ into people. Whilst you’re at it, why not pay it forward by offering to introduce a few of your connections?

Your prospective employer is impressed by your ability to communicate clearly, engage with clients, and to network so you can work towards bringing home the bacon. These skills are pivotal to growing business, and bettering your future opportunities.

Leave a comment, let me know your thoughts, stories or essential do’s and do not’s when networking.

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