Networking is as simple as approaching people to ask for their advice and to talk to them about your career aspirations. People like to share their tips, particularly with those just starting out, and a simple conversation can lead to opportunities for work experience and even jobs.
If you’re shuddering at the thought of making small talk at gatherings and events, rest assured: you can network from your desk.
First, check what’s visible about you online – is it what you want a prospective employer or professional contact to be able to see? Check security settings and update public profiles.
Search Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs, YouTube and others – learn what platforms are used by those in your field. Many organisations and individuals are using Facebook professionally; but before you network on Facebook, research features such as the ‘restricted’ list to choose what you share with various people. Ensure you keep anything a prospective employer may see professional.
Join the platforms that you find useful – use a consistent username, image and text, and reference other platforms that you’re using professionally to link them. LinkedIn is probably the most popular networking platform. Make sure you complete your profile in full, add contacts and seek recommendations. for more information, see Get Started With LinkedIn .
Network away – join relevant groups on LinkedIn to ask questions and see member details. Add new contacts to enlarge your network and search for more. If you’re using Twitter or blogs, follow relevant people to read updates and feel free to ask questions by sending a message starting @username.
Share useful information you come across – networking is supposed to be mutually beneficial, so find ways to add information.
Ask for advice – sending CVs to people you’ve found online isn’t networking. Most are happy to give help or advice initially, so ask questions and gain a useful understanding. Make sure you say thank you.
Follow up with further questions – follow up an initial enquiry by asking them for advice on taking your interest further – are there opportunities coming up or people they’d recommend you to contact?
Carry on networking – it can take a while to see the fruits of networking online, but as your network grows and your credibility increases, it will become more useful and even more so when you’re in a job.
Showcase your online networking on your CV – this will highlight your technological skills as well as your flair for communication and willingness to learn.