Networking

It is estimated that around 70% of jobs are never advertised. It is important that you know how to tap into the hidden job market by networking effectively.      

As well as a means of job hunting, networking is can also a good way of:

  • setting up work experience
  • getting information about a profession/ organisation/ sector
  • generating career ideas
  • researching university assignments
  • developing mutually supportive business relationships
  • building your skills and improving your employability

Networking steps

  1. Be clear about why you want to network. Do you want to find out about a specific career or organisation? Do you want to discuss a specific topic to get another person's views?
  2. Figure out the best way to start networking. See the suggestions below.
  3. Think about how you want to come across and how you will introduce yourself. You may find our personal branding (PDF 204 kb) leaflet useful.
  4. When networking, take a business card and CV with you, dress appropriately, be polite and ensure that you engage in two way conversations.
  5. After networking follow up on any promises and keep in touch with the people you have met. Ensure that you are not demanding but suggest how you could be useful to them and how you want to proceed.

How to start networking

Networking is a creative activity and there are many ways to get started. Here are some ideas:

Use your current contacts

Such as family members, friends, teachers, course mates, colleagues; in fact people that you’ve met through any means at all! Do your contacts work in the area that you’re interested in? Even if not, it is worth letting them know that you’re looking for work in a particular area because they may know someone who could help.

Get involved with a professional body or networking group

Most sectors have professional bodies which are involved in activities such as: lobbying, accrediting courses, publishing trade magazines, running networking events and providing careers information. Some also publish member directories on their websites.

Business networking groups are often set up to support professionals to find work, build partnerships and to exchange ideas.

To find a professional body or networking group look up the Prospects occupational profile for your intended career and select 'contacts and resources.' 

Attend conferences, career fairs and other events

Careers fairs are advertised on  as well as on Prospects.

Also consider attending or even taking part in trade shows, competitions, exhibitions or performances. Find out what's going on through professional bodies and networking groups, reading the trade press, looking at 'what's on' guides to theatres, galleries or event halls and by using your contacts.

Visit social networking sites and blogs

These allow you to connect with an almost limitless amount of people and their potential for career networking is huge. Choose your sites carefully. Sites such as Facebook are usually used for social purposes whereas sites such as LinkedIn are more professional. Remember that you may be giving away access to personal information so ensure that you appear professional online by editing what you share and reviewing your security settings.

Set up work experience or voluntary work

This is a good way to make contacts and may lead to a job after graduation. See our tips on work experience and volunteering for more information.