Networking is the process of speaking to people and making contacts to help you in your future career. These people may be able to help you by:
Having a well-established network will help your career planning and make it easier for you to find a job when you graduate. Many jobs are never advertised (often called the hidden job market) and a good network can be a way of hearing about these roles.
You probably already have a good network. Start by thinking about who you already know. This could be family, friends or work colleagues. It could also be members of your sports teams, societies, lecturers, teachers, neighbours or former employers from any part-time work, internships or voluntary work.
Think about whether they could help you directly or put you in touch with someone else.
You have the chance to attend many careers-related events while at university. We hold job fairs and networking events through the year. Students make really helpful contacts at these events. Look at our events schedule to find out what's on.
Even if the people you talk to can’t help you directly, they can be a great source of information about an organisation or sector, and they may be able to introduce you to others who can help you.
Departments, colleges and societies may also organise events with alumni.
York Profiles and Mentors is a platform of profiles written by York graduates. You can search by the course they studied or by the sector they work in. It’s a good way to learn more about what York graduates do in their careers. You can also send questions and mentoring requests. Read more about how mentoring works on the platform.
Social media is an excellent way to build your network. You might find it easier to reach out to people online than face-to-face.
LinkedIn is a leading networking site aimed at business professionals that allows you to create an online profile to promote your skills, knowledge and experience.
It allows you to connect with professionals in your field through group discussions and introductions, and receive personal recommendations/endorsements from people you have worked with. If managed carefully, this can help you to build up a good reputation which many people (including potential employers) will see. You can use the Alumni tool (find University of York, then select Alumni on the left hand menu bar) to find York graduates from your course, or in the sector you're interested in.
Twitter is more informal than LinkedIn, but is a useful tool for building your network.
As it’s an open network, it’s easy to join in with conversations. Find people and organisations in the industry you’re interested in and follow them. Join in with discussions and look out for things like regular twitter chats, which are usually networking hours in which people in a particular industry discuss a relevant topic.
Over time people will get to know you and be more willing to help you with requests.
Be careful on social media. It’s common for potential employers to search for you online when they are shortlisting. If you have public social media accounts, would you be happy with what a potential employer could find?
Linked to social media, there may be online communities in the area of work you’re interested in. This could be in the form of a blog, newsletter, a website or a forum. These can be hard to find; you might want to ask people in your network if they know of any.
Think creatively about how you can reach out to new people to expand your network. Almost every industry will have one or more professional associations that may run networking events. Find relevant associations on the Profession Finder from Total Professions.
You could also reach out to people by email. Maybe you have read an article or blog post you found interesting – you could email the author to let them know and ask any questions you have.
Think about what you want to achieve – do you want to talk to someone about getting work experience, learn more about their experiences, get advice or find a job?
If you’re meeting with someone to find out information, make sure you prepare. Here are some questions you might want to use:
And some general points to remember:
Even when you don’t feel like you need anything from your network, you should make an effort to stay in touch. This might mean being active on your social media channels (posting, replying to people, engaging in discussions), sending occasional emails or even meeting up for a chat if you have a particularly good relationship with someone.
Good networking should help both people, so when you want to make use of your network think about how you can help the person you’re approaching. It might mean sharing an interesting article or offering to introduce them to someone else in your network.
We've created a series of short videos to help you make the most of networking. Below you can hear York graduates talk about how to make meaningful connections with other people to enrich the opportunities available to you.