Networking: what do you do if you’ve no contacts?

You’re probably aware that networking is really important for developing your career. However, if you find the idea of building your own personal network of contacts daunting, you’re not on your own.

Some reasons why students and graduates (and the general population) find networking fairly scary and generally avoid it:

– Assumption that networking is only for established business people, involves approaching complete strangers, and/or giving out business cards – not for the faint-hearted!

– Assumption that networking is somehow ‘under-handed’

– Thinking that that if you don’t have existing contacts via friends and family, then it’s not worth trying to make contacts

– Feeling you don’t have any contacts and don’t know how to make any

– Fear of rejection

– Feeling intimidated by the thought of talking to people who are established in their career, or similar in age to your parents (if you’re a younger student)

It doesn’t have to be this hard!

Successful networking is really about being helpful to others and perhaps just asking them about themselves, their role and their industry, rather than approaching strangers with business cards.

Being at university gives you instant access to a range of potential contacts: your lecturers, external speakers delivering Careers and Employability workshops and events, university staff in roles which interest you.

Seven simple ways to make new contacts:

– Register for our Work shadowing Service and attend a visit

– Sign up for our Arrange your own Work Shadowing workshop on 18 November to get tips and ideas about how to approach employers

– Go and volunteer: – volunteering is a great way to widen your network – if you’re short of time, find something you can do for a couple of hours per month

– Interview people as part of your research for projects and assignments

– Create a LinkedIn profile, join professional groups and start inviting contacts e.g. guest speakers, your lecturers, work shadowing host e.t.c.

– Make more use of existing your contacts: your lecturers, Work Based Learning placement organisation – invite them to connect on LinkedIn and ask them for suggestions of others who might be willing to talk to you:

– Have a look at our Guide to Information Interviews and set up a meeting

Further networking tips