8 Powerful Networking Tips for Post Graduates
Having to network as a post-grad with little networking experience can conjure up feelings of anxiety and leave you unsure of where to begin, but with these powerful tips you will be networking effectively in no time at all.
Networking is a great tool to improve your career prospects but is often underutilized due to people lacking the confidence to try it. In fact 1 in 4 people are reported to not network at all!
With a little bit of preparation and by following these tried and tested networking tips, you can gain the confidence you need to network and create important professional relationships to get you ahead of the competition and onto the career ladder in your field of choice.
Post-grads can use networking for the following reasons:
- To establish, build, maintain and reinforce professional relationships to further career goals
- To gain access to relevant information in the field
- To increase other peoples’ trust
- As a self-promotion tactic
So what networking strategies are the most powerful?
There are many to choose from, but to begin we recommend trying the following tips first.
Start with Your Own Network
You may not realize it, but you already have an established network of contacts.
Building connections via your family, friends, neighbors, peers and even professors can be a great place to start when initiating networking and developing your list of connections. If you've worked previously, or as a student, and left the job the right way, consider re-connecting with employers and former co-workers.
By reaching out to people in your current network and making them aware that you have just graduated and are now actively seeking a suitable work position, they may be able to put in a good word with someone they already know as a first step.
Consider who could be on your outreach list
Once you have established who is in your current network, that can help you along the way. It is then time to consider expanding your outreach list.
You need to ask yourself which brands you admire professionally, which leaders influence you, which company has the same values as you, etc. By understanding this, you can expand your outreach list and try to connect with these organizations or leaders to gain further insights into the industry, and seek advice on how to achieve your professional goals.
Use Social Media
A lot of people are active on some form of social media which makes it one of the easiest and most powerful ways to develop your network. At the click of a button, you can follow trends, seek advice, discuss opportunities and develop professional relationships, even on an international level.
It doesn’t matter that you have not met the person yet, either. When sending an invitation to connect with someone, be open and honest and let them know you’d like to add them to your network to offer them help, share resources and develop a mutually beneficial professional relationship.
Networking is marketing. Marketing yourself, your uniqueness, what you stand for.
– Christine Comaford-Lynch
Do your research
If you are going to a networking event, or trying to connect with an individual or company, it’s important to do some research first, either on the person’s background or the organizations history and culture. This will help you to prepare questions in advance and, by having some prior knowledge under your belt, you will feel more confident to network effectively.
Practice your small talk
Try to push your conversations from a simple hello to something more personal in an effort to get to know the other person and engage in small talk.
Making a focused effort in this area, introducing yourself, learning about what other people’s interests are and initiating a conversation about those topics, will likely lead to developing a deeper professional relationship and, as new acquaintances, you can rely on each other for support or advice in numerous situations.
Create an elevator pitch
If you have not heard this term before, don’t panic. Simply put, an elevator pitch is a really short summary about yourself, your field of study or something else that is relevant to your goals that you want to communicate to other people.
An Elevator Pitch
Apparently it is called an elevator pitch because you are supposed to be able to finish the story during a short ride in an elevator!
By preparing short, thought-out pitches about yourself, you will feel more confident in networking with other people and won’t feel stumped or under pressure when asked what it is you want to do or what your career goals are.
Cultivate Your New Network
Once you have built up a good network, that doesn’t mean your objective is complete. You need to continue to cultivate and work on maintaining your network so that it remains effective.
You can easily achieve this by:
- Maintaining regular contact with the people in your network by way of catch up emails, phone calls or meet-ups
- Keeping active on your social media channels and regularly engaging with people in your field of choice
- Continuing to connect with relevant people in the industry
These are small but effective ways to maintain your presence and, if possible, should be actioned consistently on a regular basis.
“Understand that networking is an ongoing process, not a discrete event. Success comes from consistently making new contacts, following up and keeping in touch.” - Jereshia Hawk
Further Reading from Skills You Need
Develop the skills you need to get that job.
This eBook is essential reading for potential job-seekers. Not only does it cover identifying your skills but also the mechanics of applying for a job, writing a CV or resume and attending interviews.
Have a business card
Get some business cards made up with all of your contact details included and keep some on you at all times in case you encounter a networking opportunity at the last minute.
Not only does producing a business card look very professional, it is also a powerful way to get people to remember you and have your contact details to hand.
With many jobs being filled through networking, it really is worthwhile to use the benefits of networking to get you the business opportunity you are looking for as a post-graduate. Use these powerful networking tips as a guide to grow your own network and like most things in life, the more you push yourself to do something, the easier and more natural it will become.
About the Author
Joe Flanagan is the Senior Career Advisor at VelvetJobs, an outplacement services provider, job search and resume builder. His expertise include recruitment, resume writing and workplace issues.