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Networking can be one of the most important activities when looking to source your next job.

You network every day, whether you realise it or not. Just as you network in your personal life, you can use your contacts to help with job hunting.

Essentially, networking is building relationships, creating a good reputation within the industry and getting to know people who can help you develop your career prospects.  

Many job openings are never advertised, so it helps greatly to have a network of contacts who can provide you with information, job leads, support and recommendations.

Building Your Network:

There are many ways to build your network of contacts, and you don’t have to be naturally confident or outgoing to network successfully.

Start by looking at people you already know:
  • personally (family, friends, friends of family, neighbours)
  • socially (gym, sports clubs, or any other group activities)
  • academically (old school, college, university classmates, peers you have studied towards industry related qualifications with)
  • professionally (current and ex-colleagues and managers) 

When speaking to anyone you know, listen out for information that could assist you in your job search, and for information that could assist you in making more contacts.

Identify existing networks:

There are many ways that you can integrate networking into your job search including:
  • the use of business networking sites (such as Linked-In), online industry forums and social networking sites
  • attendance at industry conferences, events and job fairs - make sure you have a copies of your CV and business cards to hand out to any contacts you meet. 

Create your own network:
  • Create a list of your contacts, where they work and what their position is.
  • Keep a record of who you meet, talk to, and any key pieces of information gained.

Regular communication:
  • As well as building new contacts, make sure that you don't forget to keep in touch with the ones you already have.

Key Networking Tips:

  • First impressions count (face to face, over the telephone or e-mail) so always act professionally.
  • Research your contacts and the organisation they work for – this will help create a good impression.
  • Use every meeting as an opportunity to gather information - whether it be on a specific company, a new contact, industry changes, new projects or specific opportunities.
  • Networking is a 2 way exchange of information and support – be prepared to offer assistance to others within your network.
  • Always aim to expand your network
  • Be yourself!