August 24, 2016, by NUBS Postgraduate Careers
Why Talking To Other Human Beings Is Good For Your Career
By Ewan Henry, Employer Relations Consultant
We’ve all heard the expression ‘your network is your net worth’ and whilst it holds true in many business settings does the same apply for postgraduate students at the beginning of their careers? The answer remains a definite yes but with some important differences.
For a business professional of 10 years’ experience their network is a useful source of information, leads and opportunities. The challenge therefore is how to deploy these contacts most effectively. For a student or recent graduate whose network is relatively small the challenge is to grow it in an appropriate way. The following blog will hopefully point you in the right direction as a starting point of how to do this.
So what do we mean by appropriate? A strong network is more than the informal associations you have made via your friends and family. Instead it is a carefully constructed group whose shared knowledge and willingness to help will deliver a major boost to your career development. Here are our top four things your network should be:
What is your ultimate career goal? If you want to work in the finance industry there is no point developing relationships with quantity surveyors for example. This might sound obvious but most people do not proactively develop their network, instead they rely on friends and family in the hope that they will be able to help. Whilst this may give you access to a wide variety of people networking is more about quality over quantity and quality in this instance means people who have links to the career you want to move into.
Once you’ve identified the sorts of people you need to network with you need for find out where they are. Professional bodies, campus networking events, conferences and exhibitions are all great starting points but don’t be afraid to get creative as well. With sites such as LinkedIn dominating the business social media world you are only a few clicks away from thousands of professionals working in the industries that you are interested in. Your goal is to have one on one conversations with these people. Why not source their name on LinkedIn, contact them via their work email and arrange a telephone conversation? In the world of networking there is no substitute for proactivity.
This is the most important point. We all have that one friend who makes everything about them right? How does that make you feel? With so many potential contacts to speak to it ceases to be about what you want from them and instead you need to consider why they would want to speak with you. What do you offer that can help them? As someone who is at the early stages of their career you may not feel that you have a great deal to offer a seasoned business professional but that isn’t necessarily the case.
If you are at a networking event listen out for opportunities to help the people who are there. A few examples of how you might be able to develop a relationship could be providing research assistance (maybe as a Company Based Dissertation) or maybe you could educate yourself on the various funding options that the university provides businesses if they work with our students and develop your own internship! The opportunities are endless and the important point is that if you are valuable to a business they will feel obliged to help you when the time is right.
It is never too soon to build your network. Whether you are just graduating or just about to start a MSc here at the Business School you should aim to proactively grow your network at every opportunity. If you are just leaving us this means approaching businesses that are of interest to you and seeing if there is a mutually beneficial arrangement to be made. If you are just joining us it means planning out your activity for the next year. We run a range of events in the first and second semesters that allow you access to employers both within the business school and the wider university. Importantly however this is your career and no-one will kick start it except for you so don’t limit yourself to activities laid out by the school. Aim to develop links with relevant businesses, create your own placement opportunities and build your CV over the 12 months that you are with us.
If this all sounds intimidating or you are unsure how to get started don’t fear that is what the Postgraduate Careers Team is here for. We run network training sessions and workshops throughout the year as well as offering one on one support – email us on BusinessPCS@nottingham.ac.uk to book an appointment. Whether you are soon-to-be alumni or just joining us if you are willing to take control of your career development we will support you every step of the way.