Subject: Networking as a student, how it should be done
When is the right time to start networking?
Well right now of course, being a student is hard enough and with the added pressure of “you should be making contacts now” thrown in there, things can get slightly complicated. So, I decided to compile a list of the different ways in which you really can start building your own professional network right now. Whether you’re in your 1st year of university or your final!
The obvious one to start with would be by attending recruitment fairs. Most recruitment fairs are quite specialized otherwise it would be difficult to attract your target audience. It’s important to remember that whilst there, talk to everyone. These people are the future of the business, they could potentially be your competitors or even your colleagues, so NETWORK!
An easy way to approach someone attending an event like this would be to just walk up say hi and ask what university they’re studying at, as well as making a contact there’s potential to make like minded friends. Attending a recruitment fair is also your chance to speak to the companies directly, the companies are there because they want to meet prospective candidates. Ask as many questions as you can think of! It’s also important to take names, especially if this is a company you hope to possibly work for in the future, it’ll look good to be able to throw this person’s name in at some point when applying.
Whilst you are at university just as I said above the people around you will be the future of the industry, try not to lose contact with these people! It will also come in handy to get to know the people outside your course. You might be studying marketing but really need a graphic designer, website builder or just a great writer! This is the easiest way to start building your professional network.
Networking events, depending on your location it’s normally relatively easy to find a networking event, if you live in London or Manchester there’s one just about every week! Eventbrite and Helm Tickets are the normal go to’s for people posting these kinds of events.
Whether it be fashion related or business in general, when attending a networking event, it’s good practise to find out who is going to be at the event. Whether that’s sponsors or guest speakers. You want to have as much ammunition when going into one of these as possible. It’s also a good idea to connect with some of these people through LinkedIn beforehand, it’s an easy way to start a conversation.
Bet you didn’t think of this one, Your Lecturers. You would be surprised as to who they actually know, to be a lecturer at university level you have to have more than just good grades, they have real life experience (and contacts) and 9/10 are still in some shape or form, working in the industry even if that’s just through research. If they’ve previously worked at a company, you’re interested in either working for or interning at, ask for an email so you can get in contact with them and mention that “said lecturer” gave you the email– a good ice breaker alongside that!
And of course, through Internships or Work Experience, this kind of environment is so invaluable for building your professional network, not only with the people within your office but also through the people said company associates with, the longer you are there the more people you will have the chance to meet and therefore the more opportunities that will come! It’s important at this stage to take note of everyone’s name and position so you can name drop at a later point.
One final tip:
When attending networking events and recruitment fairs it’s so important to introduce yourself, this might sound like a silly one but it’s quite easy to just jump straight into a conversation and forget to actually mention your name and ask for there’s!
It’s all about the people you know.