Networking is a great job- search tool. Are you using it? You have probably heard that 60-70% of jobs come from networks. Moreover, many employers seek in job applicants the ability to verbally communicate with persons inside and outside the organization. Networking is a great way of showing that you have this ability!
But establishing and maintaining a good network is much more than a tool to search for jobs. A good network can be a source of inspiration and knowledge, it brings you in touch with interesting people and may make your live more colorful and meaningful.
Start your networking with your current contacts, but look for possibilities to meet others as well. Especially international students who lack some of the resources national students have, can benefit from making a clear attempt to meet new people in the new environment. Making new contacts will enrich both your private and professional lives. Reaching out to others will not only help you to master the challenges of living a cross-cultural life, it could also support you in feeling at home in the new environment.
Using social media actively can be another good way of building new contacts. Become a member of Xing (for Germany) or LinkedIn. Present a convincing profile and clearly describe your haves and wants. Stay away from a boring, generic headline and include a friendly yet professional photo in your account. Join groups, contribute to discussions and use social media to learn more about a company. Actively search for alumni of your study program on LinkedIn and Xing, get inspired by their C.V.s and contact them, if they work in your field of interest.
However, meeting people online is fine, but nothing beats meeting a real person! Social media can never replace trust building from face- to face meetings. Thus, turn off your notebook, leave the room and the house!
Also, check out what your Career Service at your University has to offer! Career Service professionals are not there to give you a job or place you in a job. But it might be good to register for a workshop or attend a seminar and make use of the opportunity to meet employers or simply fellow students looking for jobs. They might have some interesting information or ideas which could be meaningful for you as well. Moreover, sharing some of the ups and downs of job-searching may take some of the burden from you.
Is it ok to ask your contacts for help in finding a job? Experts argue you´d better not as it puts them in a position where they may have to say no, and nobody likes that. Instead, set an achievable goal, ask for their advice or opinion, try to find out what a company is looking for in candidates, learn more about the skills necessary to do a specific job or what a particular company does, find out what a typical working week would look like or ask them who else you should be talking to.
In general, it is important to see networking as a two-way process. Ideally, you and your contacts are each helping each other. Networkers who take and do not give back, are called “black holes” as nothing comes back, not even light. Thus, make sure that you listen to what the other person has to say and think about possible ways to return favors. Good networking is about sharing information, knowledge and contacts.
In sum, networking can be a powerful tool for both enriching your private and professional lives and may even help you to find a job. So, be where the action is happening, be visible and start your networking today!