Looking for a new job? Have you considered networking? Sitting behind your laptop searching the internet for new roles, filling out job applications and endlessly submitting your CV to job sites will only get you so far.

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The internet is a great tool for finding available jobs; however, I feel it can really let you down when it comes to actually applying. Of course, it makes applying for roles quick and simple, but standing out is near impossible because applicants are hiding behind e-mails and application forms. A CV doesn’t tell the full story – the employer knows nothing about you or your personality. I am all for meeting people face to face, building relationships and making connections.

A huge amount of recruitment comes through referrals; it’s all about who you know. So, it makes sense to focus at least a third of your efforts on building business connections when looking for a new role, and what better way to do this? Networking!

Networking events are easy to find. Social media sites are littered with them, especially LinkedIn (providing you are following the right groups/people) and a quick Google search will return numerous results.

If you’re new to networking, there are a few simple tips that you can follow to increase your chances of success.

1.    Do not expect anything

Seriously, do not go to a networking event expecting to be given a job. That’s not how it works. Remember that your aim is to build business connections and get your message across – that you’re seeking employment, and if you’re offered a job, winner!

Now there’s no point running around telling people that you are looking for a job. Subtly drop into conversations that you are looking for a new opportunity.

Networking is a two-way street and everyone is there for a similar reason – in some way or another they are looking to help themselves. So you must, again subtly, explain how your skills, qualifications and experience could help others. If they feel that you would be beneficial to them then you have succeeded in making a business connection, something that could lead to something there and then or in the future.   

2.    Get to know the right people

Networking isn’t about how many people you speak to; it’s about who you speak to. You should leave the event knowing that you have made a lasting impression on a handful of people. Similarly, a handful of people should have made a lasting impression on you. The event isn’t going to last all night, so make sure you utilise your time well.

Be careful though; do not dismiss others or consider them irrelevant if they want to speak to you. At the end of the day you don’t know who they know. Be friendly and interact with everyone, just politely cut conversations short if they aren’t going anywhere.

3.    Take a handful of business cards

Business cards and networking go hand in hand. If you don’t have business cards, I would recommend that you get some – it really doesn’t cost much and it is totally worth it.

Include the obvious information; name, industry, level i.e. graduate, senior etc. and contact information. I also think it is a great idea to include a URL to your LinkedIn page – giving people the opportunity to check you out online. If your LinkedIn page has been filled out properly, then it should have all of the information they are looking for – it’s essentially your online CV. A quirky design won’t go a miss either. It’ll help you stand out.

Remember, if you feel that you have had a conversation with someone that could be beneficial to you, ask for their business card too.

4.    Steer clear of alcohol

Honestly, I would strongly recommend that you do not drink. Drinking can be perceived as unprofessional and that is not a signal you want to be giving off. Although it may help calm your nerves, try to stick with a soft drink. Besides, once you have started your first conversation your nerves will calm themselves.

Remember that word of month is an incredibly powerful thing. Attend networking events, get to know people in your industry and build those vital connections. Opportunities will soon arise. 

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