Networking: how to make it work for you

Written by Callum McAvan, Student Communications and Marketing Assistant at the Careers Service

Networking – it’s a scary word. For some it may come naturally, the conversation flows smoothly from the moment they are in the business environment, talking to someone new, they’re in their element. However, if you’re anything like me, that is certainly not the case.

But, if one thing’s for sure, it’s that learning how to network can only help you get ahead in your career. It’s a valuable skill to have and, despite my reservations, I can honestly say it’s not as daunting as it may seem. What’s more, as a University of Manchester student there are plenty of ways you can start networking effectively right now. Here are our top tips for making networking work for you.

Get involved on campus

Networking doesn’t have to be done at an official event. It can be as simple as getting involved and the University campus is the perfect place to do this. For example, joining a society will allow you to meet new people that you otherwise may have never met, whilst pursuing an interest at the same time.

What’s great about this is that you’ve got a conversation starter ready made from the moment you meet the other members – the topic of whichever society you join! From a capella to zoology, the University has a society for everyone and they’re a great place to meet new people and expand your network.  

If you’re thinking of trying something new, our Enterprise Club, Media Club and Third Sector Club also offer a fantastic way to broaden your network and gain some valuable insight into three interesting and diverse career paths.

Join the Manchester Network

The Manchester Network is the University’s mentoring and networking portal. Think LinkedIn, but exclusively for University of Manchester students and alumni. Setting up your account is quick, easy and it opens you up to forming professional connections with potentially hundreds of alumni who work across a plethora of sectors.

No matter the career path you want to take, there will be somebody who can give you support. Our ‘Ask Me About’ feature is a great way to connect with a professional and gain some advice.

Meet the Professionals

At the Careers Service, we hold events all the time. Rarely does a day go by that there isn’t a careers event on, varying from workshops and advice sessions to employer specific events. The latter of those listed should be of particular interest to you if you’re looking to network, as the people who present are there specifically to meet University of Manchester students. There’s little to lose in approaching them and getting to know about not only them, but their company. Having a chat may keep you in their memory for future opportunities, or it may just be a pleasant way to spend five minutes – either way it’s a win. Similarly, our regular Meet the Professionals events are a great chance to connect with alumni who work in the sectors you’re interested in, from chemical engineering to the arts.

Use your existing network

So far, all of the advice given has been on how to make new connections, but some of your most valuable networking will have already been done! So, pat yourself on the back. It may not seem like your friends will give your career prospects a bump in the right direction, but as you both progress, their friendship could hold you in good stead.

Just as you could potentially do for them, they may very well turn your attention to great opportunities. Their recommendation of you could be the thing that sets you apart from other applicants. It’s clichéd but quite true that it’s who you know that will get you ahead, and you likely already know people who will help you on your way in the future.

Networking isn’t something that is ethereal, scary, or out of your grasp by any means. Chances are, you’ve already done much more of it than you give yourself credit for; if you take a few of the steps listed above then you’ll be in an even better position come the time you’re on the lookout for work.

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