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How to find jobs

Networking

What is networking? 

The ability to network effectively is one of the most useful career skills to have, whether you are in work or seeking work.  Many people are put off by the idea of networking for career purposes, but all it really means is getting to know people (and helping them get to know you), helping others and building relationships.

Some examples of networking:

  • You know a friend is seeking a part-time job and see an advert for a position in the union; you mention this to them.
  • You need a new laptop and ask friends and family which they would recommend.
As you can see, networking is something we all do everyday.  Using it as part of your career-planning or job searching does require a bit more effort, but the principles are exactly the same. 

Networking can help you:

  • Find out more about certain careers or sectors to help your career decisions.
  • Get advice from people in your preferred sector about required skills, experience, applications, interviews and more.
  • Find out about the many opportunities which are not widely advertised.

Networking success in three steps

Networking success depends on you being prepared, clear about your objectives and willing to nurture relationships.  Following these simple steps will help you to be successful;

  1. Research: Before you make contact or attend an event, do as much research as possible about the company, the sector, or the individual (if appropriate). This will enable you to ask informed questions, get the most out of the meeting and is more likely to impress the contact.
  2. Make contact: Initial contact should ideally be via telephone or in person, depending on the situation. Be clear about your objectives and what you are hoping to get from the interaction before making contact; i.e. is it information about the company's recruitment procedures, personal insight about that person's job role, their advice or tips on getting into the industry, whether they offer work placements, etc.
  3. Follow-up: If your meeting or conversation has gone well, you will want to stay in touch, so remember to ask them if they are happy to; LinkedIn can be a great way to keep track of your contacts, see our page on social networking for more information . If they have requested some information from you, such as a CV, make sure you provide it.

Opportunities for networking

University probably presents you with more networking opportunities than you will have access to at any other time in your life. The range of activities you can get involved in, the hundreds of events taking place every year, as well as all the new people you meet mean scope for networking is huge. We have listed below just a few ideas to help get you started:

  • Careers Centre Events: We organise hundreds of presentations, fairs, employer workshops (both centrally and in specific schools and faculties) and networking events every year. Employers attend these events because they want to meet you; make sure you do not miss out! Check our events website now. 
  • Leeds for Life Networking Events: We support Leeds for Life in organising a range of networking events which often focus on specific sectors and involve Leeds Alumni (graduates) returning to talk about their careers.
  • Leeds Network: Gives you the opportunity to contact Leeds Alumni to get insider information or advice about their career.
  • Social Media: Social media and networking sites hugely increase the potential breadth of your network. See page on Social Networking for more information and tips.
  • Professional Networks: Professional bodies or associations often have local or regional networking groups or events providing the ideal opportunity to meet people in your preferred sector. Total professions has a searchable database of over 270 UK professional bodies.
  • Personal Networks: Include your friends, family, tutors, basically anyone you know! Do not underestimate the potential of your existing contacts and who they might know or how they might be able to help you.
  • Informational interviews: Help you learn more about a target industry or job role and also expand your network. See our download on informational interviews for more information.

Networking: Golden rules

  • Networking is not about asking for a job: Use initial contact to ask for advice, opinion, tips or information and then work on developing the relationship if appropriate.
  • Networking is two-way: Be prepared to help others and they are more likely to help you.
  • Networking is not a quick-fix: Strong networks take time and effort to develop so you need to begin well before you are actually seeking a job.
  • Do what you say:  If you promise to do something, whether this be sending an e-mail, your CV, or providing them with information or a useful contact of yours, make sure you do it.