This article will explain what networking skills are, tips on how to be effective and advice on opportunities to build your network.

Networking, whether informal or formal, is a great way of meeting people and making and maintaining positive connections. Developing a network of contacts can help you with your career planning and job search, but you need to make sure that your approach is professional, planned and has clear goals.

 

What are networking skills?

The best attributes that a networker can have are curiosity and creative thinking. Other important skills include:

  • talking to people

  • building rapport and relationships

  • listening to people and taking an interest in them

  • engaging people’s interest quickly

  • being ready to act on opportunities

 

Here are some of our top tips to ensure you network effectively:

  • Have clarity in terms of your goals for networking – for example, if you are looking to build key points of contact for a future career move, make sure this is kept in mind.

  • Ensure that you research those contacts you are networking with formally so that you are confident in your approach. You can begin by searching the information available online.

  • Listen – make sure that you are actively listening to your contact. This will mean you are seen as a good listener and you will also be able to recall important information more easily.

  • Do not bombard the person – check that you are not taking up too much of their time. It should be a brief information gathering exercise.

  • Enquire about other useful contacts the person you are speaking to may know, and gain permission to say that they were recommended. These are known as 'warm contacts.'

  • Never directly ask for a job when networking! Simply ask for information and contacts and see where it leads. Ask for a business card and once the meeting is over make brief notes on the back.

  • Make sure you send a thank you note or email to your contact after the meeting to reinforce your appreciation and any points discussed or agreed.

  • Keep in touch with relevant contacts on a regular basis to ensure that you are fresh in their minds.

 

Opportunities for networking

Networking can be both formal and informal, developing connections in person through meetings and events or online via social media networks. The following advice provides some useful starting points:

 

Social networking online

A large number of organisations now have a presence on social media including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. If you do not have one already, creating a profile online can be a great place to make contacts and start building a network.

Make sure you think carefully about how you present yourself on social networking sites. Check to see what information is available about you online and make sure you are happy with what a potential employer can find.

 

Student and university networks

There are plenty of opportunities to meet and network with professionals or other students interested in your chosen field.

  • Student societies – The University of Portsmouth Students’ Union provides a listing of societies

  • Recruitment fairs and employer events – the Careers and Employability Service organises a range of employer events where you can meet recruiters and find out more about the opportunities available.

 

Professional networks

A lot of career areas have one or more professional body or membership organisations often providing opportunities to network both online and at events.

 

How can I get in contact for more information and advice?

The Careers and Employability Service has a dedicated team of friendly, experienced advisers on hand to talk to you. You can find out more about the support available from the Careers and Employability Service, access a wide range of information and advice and find out how to contact us by visiting our website at www.port.ac.uk/careers

 

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