Networking

Ever heard the phrase ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know’? That’s why networking works. Here’s how you can find your way around the hidden jobs market with a little help from your friends.

Why you need to network

A page has little passport photos of people, with circles drawn around them and arrows linking them

It’s simple. If you’re not networking, you could be missing out on a load of job opportunities.

Why? Well, imagine an employer with a vacancy. Say there’s someone they know, or know of, who could do the job well. They’re likely to approach them first – it's convenient and they already trust them. 

If that doesn't work, they might ask their contacts for suggestions. A recommendation means they find someone. So long before you’d ever see a vacancy on a jobs board, the job’s already taken.

Build up your network, and it could be your name that's suggested.

Five networking tips for job hunters

Networking can be a scary-sounding concept. It’s easier than you might think, though. Try these tips and get started.

Ask for a referral

Even if they can’t help you with your job hunt, they might know someone who can. Ask if they can suggest contacts, and could put you in touch

Try people you know

Family, friends, former employers, former teachers – tell them you’re looking for a job. They could help, or know someone you can get in touch with

Find some events

Look for networking events, job fairs, talks and workshops based round your ideal job. Introduce yourself to as many people as you can, and ask if you can keep in touch

Strike up a conversation

Even outwith events, you’re meeting new people every day. You never know where a chat will lead

Be positive

Tell them about your goals and ambitions. Talk about your strengths. Inspire them to help you

Elevator pitches

Create a great elevator pitch and you'll never be stuck for an answer for ‘Tell me about yourself.’ Interested? Our tutorial takes you through writing your pitch step by step.

Building your network

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In the video, David talks about his experience of networking. It's very important in his job, in the creative industry. Even simple tasks like walking the dog have led him to new connections.

It goes to show that you don’t have to be doing work-related things to grow your network. It can be easier to think of it as just people you know, rather than 'a network'.

Think about your hobbies. Are you part of a sports team, book group or club? The people you’ve met there are also a part of your network. They might know someone who knows someone. They might have similar job interests to your own. 

Getting experience

Remember that building experience also lets you grow your network at the same time. Taking up a volunteering placement or doing some work experience will give you new contacts as well as new skills. Look for opportunities which could help you meet people in the types of jobs you want to do.

Informational interviews

An informational interview is isn't like a job interview. It's more of just a chat with someone working in the type of job you want to get in to. You could ask about the industry, and how people get in to it. You'll also make a new contact who might be able to help you in the future.

Start by researching employers you’d like to work for. Be as specific as possible. Use tools like LinkedIn to find names of people in jobs you're interested in.

Contact them and ask if they'd be willing to meet you to discuss their role.

When you’re going to your meeting, dress smart and make sure you’re punctual. Bring a list of things you know you want to ask about.

After your chat, send a thank-you note or email. Keep in touch and let them know how you’re getting on. Ask them to keep you in mind if anything comes up.

Telephone tips

Phoning someone you’ve never met before can be a bit nerve-wracking. Try these tips and feel confident as you call.

  • Make sure you know who you want to talk to. Have their name or department written down in front of you
  • Keep a note of your contact details, in case they ask for them
  • Write down some key questions or talking points to refer to. This will help you stay focussed on what you want to ask
  • Have a calendar or diary handy so that you’re ready to suggest dates if they can meet to talk to you, and a notepad in case you want to jot anything down
  • Stand up. It sounds strange, but will help you feel more confident