Networking is establishing a network, whose contacts may be useful in achieving a specific objective. In exchange for help received, support is provided to one's contacts as far as possible to help them achieve their objectives.
Networks are therefore also very useful for planning and embarking on your career. If you use them wisely, not only do you stand to benefit from the tips and experience of others, you may also come by professional opportunities which you would otherwise have known nothing about. This is because, as well as the open job market, there is a hidden market of vacancies that do not even get as far as the job market, because they are filled through direct contacts.
Networking requires perception and is a time-consuming business. However,in the long run, it can be very worthwhile for you. It is important to start building your contacts from an early stage, not just when you realize that you may soon possibly need something.
Tips for building your own network:
- Be mindful of structuring and maintaining your network, e.g. by thinking of the following questions:
- Who encourages you? What gives you a boost?
- Who sends you information, journal articles and press reports?
- Who works in a company in which you are interested?
- Who has contacts in companies of interest to you?
- Who can recommend you for a job?
- Use networking events (company events, alumni gatherings, job fairs, services at the University of Bern).
- If you take part in one of these events, be confident and approach people! Talk to them, take a genuine interest, ask questions and listen. Be sincere!
- After a successful conversation, you can hand the person your business card. Another option is to use social networks such as e.g. Xing or LinkedIn after the event to network with the people you spoke to.
- Keep in touch with your contacts! You do not give anyone a good impression if you only contact them when they could be of help to you.
- Try to ensure your expectations of your network are not too high. If your expectations are not too high, you cannot be disappointed and are less likely to become tense.
- Networking is not just about benefiting from others, it is also about helping others. You need to be ready to give as well as take.
- Elevator pitch exercise: Imagine you are standing in an elevator with your dream contact and you only have the time you are in the elevator to present yourself and gain the interest of your contact and consequently to leave a lasting impression.
- If you have a profile on a social network such as Xing or LinkedIn, make sure that it is always up to date. Also make sure that your CV for an application does not contradict your profile.
- Do not pester your contacts. No one will want to help you if you are too pushy!
Even shy people can benefit greatly from networks. If you are a little intimidated by the idea of networking, try the following tips.