Introducing Networking

Quick links:
What is Networking | The Benefits of Networking | Barriers to Networking | Tips for networking online | Tips for networking in person | Approaches to developing your network | Networking whilst at university

What is Networking

  • Networking is a socioeconomic activity by which people and entrepreneurs create interpersonal connections to form useful business relationships
  • All about developing and activating relationships, and expand sphere of influence 
  • This can be to seek out job opportunities, share information and find potential partners in future ventures
  • Networking is a great toolkit and stepping stone into the world of work, and one conversation could open multiple doors in someone’s career. 

The Benefits of Networking

  • Networking can go further than career opportunities, it can increase individuals confidence and help to build long lasting relationships with people from all different spheres of life.
  • Learning and listening to people will give you an insider insight into the industry you are interested in, what it’s like to work in that industry and where those opportunities are.
  • The Power of networking : Powerful TED talks video displaying the importance of the 3 Cs: Confidence, Curiosity and Connection
  • Forbes explain 10 reasons why networking is essential for your career

Barriers to Networking

What are the personal, physical, structural (and other) barriers that have been experienced in terms of networking?

  • Researchers have long studied women’s representation and inclusion in organisations. Affirmative action programs and antidiscrimination policies focus on increasing women’s representation in organisational ranks. 
  • Mentoring, training programs and special job assignments for women may facilitate career advancement
  • Organisations need to implement wider and deeper change, transforming structures, processes, work practices and metal models that perpetuate inequality (McCracken, 2000; Meyerson & Fletcher 2000)
  • To foster quality, organisations must change the character of the workplace that has traditionally been manned – literally and figuratively, by employees of a certain type to accommodate a different type (Thomas & Ely, 1996). Recasting institutionalised routines and practices embedded in their social- structural fabric. 
  • Breaking barriers and creating inclusiveness: lessons of organisational transformation to advance women faculty in academic science and engineering
  • Diana Bilimoria, Simy Joy and Xiangfex Lang 2008

Tips for networking online

  • Whilst face-to-face networking is still seen as one of the best networking opportunities, as the world changes to a more digital platform, online networking should not be ignored.
  • LinkedIn is a professional social network, and a great way to showcase skill set and past experience on a platform that has unlimited access from all over the world. 

A graduate’s guide to creating the perfect LinkedIn Profile:

How to use LinkedIn: Research, networking and building your brand:

How to use LinkedIn to network for a job

Tips for networking in person

Worries attending a networking event can include the following:

  • Lack of reference and fear of embarrassment. Introverts may not be comfortable with people they don’t know, as well as have worries about how to start a conversation. It’s important to remember that every friend you have was once a stranger. Starter questions such as “what do you know about the days speaker” or “have you been to one of these before”, this will remove barriers and insecurities you may be having once you start to talk.
  • Irrelevant conversation. A flowing conversation is a great thing, but you have to try your best to keep the conversation relevant. Get to know what that person does and how that person aligns with your goals.
  • Herd mentality. When a group get together, they can seem more intimidating than approaching an individual. If the group seems open, introduce yourself and weigh in on what you have heard from their conversation so far. A small pause before interjecting the group to talk is also important. 
  • Ending conversations. Simplest way of ending a conversation form a networking even is to ask for a business card. This most often ends a conversation with a handshake and a simple “it was great to meet you and I look forward to talking to you in the future”
  • Retaining information. One of the most important aspects of the event is to ensure you remember who’s who and what you spoke about, but this can also be a challenge. After each conversation, take a moment to debrief in a quiet corner, a good way of doing this is to use a recording app on your phone to capture information that you found relevant and describe the contact in enough detail to ensure that you maintain the connection

What to prepare for networking events:

  • Practicing your introduction. “We run a variety of studies, projects and activities that aim to engage more young people, especially girls and minority ethnic groups in science and technology”. Or “We specialise in equality and diversity in science and technology”.
  • Perform, the strategies behind performing (even if too shy at the start). Examples such as asking open questions, finding common interests and remembering to ask about them rather than talking about yourself.
  •  FOLLOWING UP with emails, to make sure you stick in there memory and search out that business card tucked away in their pocket

This is all useful information when thinking about practicing for networking events and how best to approach the right people.

10 Simple Ways to Improve Your Networking Skills – How to Network with People Even If You’re Shy!

Approaches to developing your network

One of the most important factors in developing your career is to cultivate a strong network.

Attending events

Networking through a mentor – (university tutors, lecturers) help to signpost and teach the core skills you need in the future.

Networking online. – Social media, LinkedIn

Mentors and coaches. – Coaches may not be able to as good as you are, however, help to observe and give feedback to help performance. Mentors and coaches are different but both help to foster these relationships.

Networking tips. – Be authentic, be yourself, always think about what you can offer to the person you are talking to. Relationship building not a sales pitch.

When it comes to your network, the best relationships are born from mutual benefits. Look at networking as an opportunity to share. Be consistent, and have a good infrastructure in place.

Networking whilst at university

It is important to get to know your lecturers a bit better. Although it can seem intimidating, lecturers have a pool of knowledge that could really benefit you and your career.

Attending networking events. University host a number of networking events throughout your time there, don’t be scared to attend them and meet like-minded people. Prepare questions to ask and make sure you take notes to get back in touch with them.

Reach out to your existing network. This can be a great way of building a network into your everyday routine and can have the potential to help you out in the future.

Use your university careers centre. These are here to help improve student employability, so ensure that you use it to your advantage. They provide CV workshops, as well as help you improve your job prospects, giving you information about internships and upcoming job fairs.

Get in touch with university alumni through the use of lecturers and the careers service. This is an invaluable way to network.