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A STUDENT'S GUIDE TO NETWORKING

A STUDENT'S GUIDE TO NETWORKING

Did you know that 80% of job opportunities aren't listed publicly? Yes you read right, 80%.

Welcome to the hidden job market, where the phrase, ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ really comes into play. If you’re lucky enough to have a relative or a friend of a friend in the field of your desire, well then you’re potentially one step ahead. If you’re like me, and you’re entering a field no other family or friend has dared ventured before, getting your foot in the door can be more challenging than you thought.

So how do you get in the know about these positions?

The answer lies in your ability to network. Networking can be a pretty daunting experience, but the good news is, anyone can do it. Take a look at some of the Do’s and Don’ts of networking below to get some tips for your next social gathering!

DO

Have an elevator speech prepared

And no, that doesn't mean you write a speech on elevators.

An elevator speech is a brief and succinct pitch that aims to get people interested in what you have to offer. It should last no longer than 30 seconds or the equivalent to a short elevator ride, hence the name. The evaluator pitch is perfect for networking nights and phone enquiries and the best part about it being short is it’s really easy to remember.

First you need to introduce yourself, followed by a reason for your call or email and ending it with what you want.

Take this example: “Hello………. My name is …………. I’m calling you today as I’m interested in learning more about…… I was wondering if you would have a minute or two to share with me any advice or refer me to someone who can?”

Obviously you can tailor this to the situation that you’re in, but as long as you stick to the basics, you’ve got a good chance of catching the attention of a potential employer. 

Create your own business cards

You might think that in a world consumed with social media a business card is no longer a cool accessory to whip out at functions. I disagree.

Networking is all about making genuine connections with people and it really doesn’t get more impersonal than when get out your phone and swap contact details digitally. In saying that, adding the person on Facebook, for example, is probably on the other side of the spectrum and is too personal. Besides, unless you’re a complete saint, chances are most of you wouldn’t want a potential boss seeing those happy snaps of you from last weekend.

Not only does a business card mean that your encounter will be more memorable, but it’s also the first impression of your brand which is you. Nothing says I’m serious about my future more than some professional looking business cards with your name on them!

Attend networking events put on by your uni

Chances are the uni you’re attending has already put on a few of these networking nights, so keep your eye on social media sites or advertisements around uni for your next one.

It’s also handy to keep in mind that networking just doesn’t mean talking mature individuals in your field of desire. The interactions that you have with your classmates are all essentially networking. When you think about it, chances are the guy sitting next to you or the girl you share your pen with sometimes, are probably going to pop up one day in the office you’ve been interviewed at. You never know where an opportunity is going to arise from; don’t burn bridges before they’ve even opened.

DON’T’s

Overconfidence can come across as arrogance

It’s great to have self-confidence, don’t get me wrong, but there’s often a fine line between being confident and coming across as arrogant. More often than not, the person you approaching doesn’t know anything about you, and that’s why your first impression is so important.

Nerves can also come across negatively when first interacting with a person. I think it’s normal in these situations to get a bit nervous and I definitely think you can use the fact that this person has no idea who you are to your advantage. If you’re really struggling with the idea of approaching people, practice your elevator speech with your friends until you feel more confident applying it to a real situation.

Be careful to cross a line and become a nuisance

While it’s encouraged that you follow up your first meeting with a quick phone call to jog the person’s memory and enquire about available positions, constantly calling or emailing is going to turn off any potential employee. Give at least three to four days in between your last contact to avoid being renamed in their contact list as “Do not answer”!

Once you get the hang of networking, it can become as simple as making a new friend in the playground on the first day of school. Start as early as possible, keep working hard and see the opportunities that are laid out in front of you in the near future.   

WORDS BY LAUREN SUTTIE

https://www.ndsu.edu/fileadmin/career/networking.pdf

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/244406

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