Networking Skills

I recently attended a Skills for Success session on networking skills run by PwC. As the world’s largest professional services firm, I can’t begin to imagine how big their network is, so you could say we were learning from the very best. After an initial brief overview of the company and the services they offer, we were asked to line up in order of our birth month and then speak to the person next to us - basically networking with them. Not only did this help to break the ice and get everyone talking, it demonstrated how simple it was to network with peers, as we found that we had a lot in common with each other. One pair happened to come from the same city in Indonesia! We then discussed what a network is, examples of the networks we are a part of and their importance. The University, our departments, student societies, and other social groups, are all examples of the many networks we are a part of and we should utilise them.

Social networks too are becoming increasingly important in graduate employment, especially LinkedIn, which is a more professional network. Other social networks, like Facebook and Twitter, are great for keeping in contact and building businesses up too. But beware, some employers now check your profile before hiring so be careful what you post and, if there’s anything you wouldn’t want them to see, make sure you’ve tightened up your privacy settings. 

We then discussed the six degrees of separation theory which states that everyone is six or fewer steps away from any other person in the world. Basically, ‘a friend of a friend’ can be used to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps. I found this very interesting and read a little more about it after the session. According to studies, the average distance between any two people on Facebook is 5.73 degrees and on Twitter it’s 4.67. To put this into practice, in groups we identified someone famous we would like to meet and used this theory and our networks to figure out how we would do this. We chose Barack Obama and, surprisingly, we found a chain of networks that could actually work.

Here are some top tips for networking at events: 

Firstly, and most importantly, DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Preparation is key. Make sure you are clear about what you want to achieve from the event, think of intelligent conversation starters (simple things like something you saw on the news recently, but nothing too cheesy) and perhaps request a list of attendees, as this will help you to know what to speak about.

On the day, arrive early and be proactive. Approach individuals you are interested in and introduce yourself. Have something to say that they will remember you by, so you stand out. But be genuine, otherwise they will see through it. Take note of the balance of the conversation; if you are doing all the talking it is an indicator that they are not interested, so move on. 

Finally, have your contact details ready and easily available to distribute. And remember, it’s not always what you know but who you know.

Buya (Student Blogger)

Have you thought about using social media to network with employers? Come along to our ‘Social Networking Success’ workshop to find out how to make the most of your digital footprint.

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