Expanding your Professional Network
Joshua Tinner, Placement Consultant at Outcome.Life, discusses the importance of 'who you know' and how to grow your contacts list
Utilizing your network?
What does this even mean?
People often talk about ‘utilising your networks’, ‘expanding your connections’, and ‘it’s who you know not what you know’, but what does this actually mean? How do you professionally connect with people, and once you’ve done that how does it give you any advantage?
It is often said about Australia that the overwhelming amount of available jobs are never advertised but only passed through word-of-mouth. Australians are well-known for hiring people based upon who the person is behind the skillset, that is to say that your personality matters as much as (if not more than) the skills that you possess. Of course, the best way to show someone your personality is to talk to them: this is where your network comes into play!
How it works
By having a large and strong network of professionals, you increase your chances of knowing someone (or knowing someone who knows someone else) that is hiring. The advantage this gives you is that you can strike-up a conversation with the hiring person if you already know them, or have your mutual connection introduce you if you do not. This conversation is effectively an informal interview for the position and you may secure the job from this discussion without ever submitting an application.
Here’s an example of how this works.
At an industry networking event, you start a conversation with someone that works in your industry. You get along well and in the conversation you end up mentioning that you’re currently looking for a job. The next day you message this person and thank them for their chat, to which they message you back saying that a business they have worked with before is looking to hire someone with your skill set. This person kindly offers to take you out to coffee with their friend that still works there and voilà: you’ve got yourself an informal interview!
You may think this scenario sounds fanciful, so think of it this way: it is not
uncommon for advertised jobs to get more than one hundred times as many applications as there are vacancies. If this many people get rejected from applications, how does anyone get a job? Once you start talking to people in the industry, you will see just how many ‘applied’ for the roles they currently occupy. So now we know why it’s so important to expand your professional network, of course the next question is how to do it.
How to expand your network:
There are two main ways you can expand your network:
1. Have people you already know make introductions. If you already know some people in your industry, whether you’ve worked with them before or they’re a friend from university, ask them if they would mind introducing you to their colleagues. This is certainly the easiest way to start building network and is a great way of keeping touch with many people.
2. Go to networking events. And again, go to networking events! It is impossible to overstate how important this is for building and maintaining your professional network, to say nothing about the useful information formally discussed during the presentation at the event. People go to these events to build their own networks and employers attend to scout for new hires so you must, make sure you regularly attend such events and that you talk to new people every time.
When it comes to it, building your professional network is no different to making new friends. There are many different tips and tricks, but at the end of the day the most important step to take is the first one: just get out there out there and start talking to people!
Joshua Tinner is part of the placement team at Outcome.Life. As part of this team, Joshua talks to new students and host companies every day about the importance of work-integrated learning. With several years’ experience in people-focussed industries, Josh is always up for a chat and his booming voice can often be heard echoing down Hardware Lane! Josh is a life-long student of the humanities and envisions a world where a balance exists between education making us well-rounded members of society whilst also practically preparing us for our working lives.
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