This post is from an external contributor. Maria shares her best, most effective networking tips. Some of them are pretty surprising!
So you go to a networking event and it’s a flurry of business cards, handshakes and overdone smiles. In a few short hours you try to meet as many people as possible. You’re getting your name out there. It’s all about getting your name out there. Whether you’re looking for a job, for experience or just to make contacts, it’s possible you don’t always have to go to some fancy-schmancy, stressful and possibly expensive networking night. You could even network from the comfort of your own home. How? Let us tell you.
1. Do your research.
You have to know what you want to get what you want. Do you want to be a lawyer? Look into law firms and see what area you might want to go into. Maybe you want to go into book publishing? Go over to your bookshelf and scan your favorite novels for their publishing houses. Discover companies you might want to work for, what they do, why they do it, how they make their money. It’s good to know the ins and outs of your chosen field in order to enter it.
When looking through job applications every employer wants to see an element of commercial awareness. This means having a basic knowledge of your chosen field and building upon it by reading articles, signing up for newsletters and watching documentaries.
Read More: What is commercial awareness and how do you demonstrate it?
2. Find your idols
Who is doing what you want to do? Find fashion editors from top magazines, learn their names, find actors or dancers or marine biologists – whatever you’re into! This is probably the only time stalking is an appropriate activity.
Follow prospective contacts on social media and see what they do. On LinkedIn, it might be useful to scan their job history to see how you can replicate their success. You could aim to do a similar post graduate degree or apply for a similar kind of job to the one that got them on the ladder.
Another great resource is Twitter! Do a Twitter search for the companies you’re interested in and search by ‘People’. This is also a great way to interact with your potential new employers – like, RT and reply to anything you find interesting. Which handily brings us to our next point. .
3. Approach people
Now you know who inspires you, reach out to them. The easiest way to do this is on social media: compliment them on an article they wrote, ask them for advice or simply just like a couple of their tweets.
You could also try to go to an event they might be attending. This may sound a little tricky but plenty of professionals go to open conferences at some point during the year that you can buy a ticket to go to. Alternatively if you do a bit of digging there may even be a couple of free events you can pop along to without breaking the bank.
Remember that networking is all about playing the long game. You can’t expect your contacts to just hand out work experience like candy. Build a relationship with them and over time, it will yield results.
4. Use social media to your advantage
As might be obvious, it will start to get a little annoying for everyone if you’re constantly replying to someone’s tweets and liking them over and over. Other than continuously just poking people and prodding companies to hire you, get involved with them. It might be the case of entering a competition or tagging them in a relevant post. Provide feedback on something they have done or answer a question they ask.
Debut host a careers and employability Twitter Chat every other Thursday called #DebutTalk featuring companies – so you can speak to them directly. It’s good to show that you’re willing to join the conversation! Through things like #DebutTalk you may even discover a new passion or someone who hadn’t heard of who you might want to work for.
5. Reach for the top, even if it’s just for your part time barista job
Even that Saturday job you just do for a bit of extra cash can further you on your path to a career. Work in a cinema? You can write film reviews in your down time! Looking for a waitressing job? Go for something that will mean you’re more likely to meet people. I got a job in London working for a high-end catering company where they put me on a shift at the Aegon Championships. In a restaurant there I happened to meet the managing editor of Tatler and she gave me her card to contact her for work experience!
It’s all about enthusiasm for your field and a willingness to approach people. If you are confident then it will impress people. Get your name out there! Networking isn’t just for networking events, you have to put those same skills to use all the time when searching for the job for you.