June 17, 2014, by Beth Dawson

Networking myths busted

Be it a jobs fair, employer presentation or alumni evening – face-to-face networking can come in many forms. However, the myths surrounding networking which may make you think it’s not for you, are as varied as the ways to network. We address some of the most common myths out there. 

“It’s only for networking naturals”

You might feel envious of those who are naturally chatty with the ability to hold conversations with anyone from lecturers to CEOs, but if you’re more of an introvert, preparation can help you to network successfully.

Before attending an event, try to think what you want to get out of it. Perhaps you want to find out more about entry routes into a particular sector? Or want to ask about what it’s to work for a company. Knowing what you want can help you to structure conversations and avoid being stuck for talking points.

Make sure you research the companies that have representatives at events. Use their website, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn pages to help you generate ideas for questions you can ask.

“You should try to meet as many new people as possible”

It’s always useful to expand your network, but don’t risk focusing on quantity of contacts rather than quality. It’s better to have fewer contacts that can offer you lots of advice and that you can engage in regular conversations with, than many contacts that you’ve received a business card from and not much else.

At a networking event, you don’t have to “work the room” or speak with everyone there. If you’re getting a lot out of a conversation with someone, there’s no need to cut it short and potentially miss out on valuable information.

“It’s all about getting a job”

Although getting a job may be your priority at the moment, your contacts can offer you much more than a way into a company. They can give you an insight into a particular career and share expert sector insights.

Also, once you’ve secured a position, members of your network can give you their opinions and advice on situations you may be facing at work, and connect you with others in similar roles.

“Only employers and professionals in the sector are contacts worth having”

As a student, you’ll know a wide range of people in diverse positions that you may not have previously considered as part of your network who can help you with your career ambitions. Lecturers, fellow students, relatives, family friends and past employers, can all provide you with with information and advice that can be extremely useful, or they may be able to put you in touch with someone in the sector you want to go into.

“Employers will think you’re pestering them if you ask for something”

How much information an employer is happy to share will vary and will depend on how you approach them. Many employers will be happy to share information about what their job involves, their company and graduate schemes they’re eager to promote. Although they may want to know a bit more about you before they share more information about other opportunities within their company.

Don’t be afraid to get in touch, but make sure that when you first get in contact, you reference how you met the person you’re contacting and write in the polite and professional style that you would use in a covering letter.

For more advice about effective networking, visit our face-to-face networking webpage. Remember, if done correctly online networking can be as effective as networking in person. Find out more information about online networking on our website and get top tips in our previous blog

Posted in Postgraduate Taught StudentsWork experience