Networking for newbies

Networking. For many students this is a daunting concept, the bridge between student and “adult” worlds. Perhaps some already have memories of awkward networking events, or standing on the edge of a group not quite knowing what to say. However, networking shouldn’t be reduced to events alone.

Although comforting, our makeshift families do not help us thrive. Instead, building relationships with “weak ties”, such as neighbours or one-time substitute professors, are the gateway to professional and personal opportunities. A study revealed that more than three-quarters of new jobs come from contacts seen only “occasionally” or “rarely”.

 

Networking becomes much less daunting concept when the goals are not achievement based; networking is not about living life as if it were a constant job interview but about meeting like and differently minded people, opening doors to a bigger, more diverse world. Some ‘networking’ may simply bring new conversation and a new perspective. Don’t underestimate its value .

 

“I’m a student, I don’t need to worry about this yet”

 

WRONG. Of course there’s no need to worry, but it is never too early to start. Abhinav Dawar, Associate, PwC M&A Strategy explains, ‘alongside making great contacts and potentially winning new clients, networking provides a huge learning opportunity from like-minded people. Not only is it never too early to start networking but it is crucial to network at a young age to maximise the exposure you get’. At university, Abhinav realised that McKinsey, unlike many other consultancy firms, did not run a student ambassador scheme on his campus. He wrote to them, suggesting to become an ambassador, and landed an internship within the company. 2 years later, he is a graduate associate with PwC, partly due to his experience in the consultancy field. This is an example of how networking extends beyond the events world.

 

As students, more common than networking events are the constant opportunities to meet new people: new professors, teaching assistants, contacts at your local community centre or sports club, the charity where you volunteer...I’ve even made professional contacts on the train! Talk to people, engage with them and most importantly, be yourself.

 

Practical tips for improving your networking skills:

 

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