When you’re studying in Australia, you might come across the concept of networking. In short, this is where you actively work towards building relationships with professionals.
Let’s learn more about networking and how it can help you in your future career.
So, what is networking?
In a nutshell, it’s about building professional relationships and establishing a network of people either in your field or adjacent to it. Through networking, you can build and refine your skills, connect with like-minded people, find an internship, and even land a job. Networking also helps you build confidence, provides insight into how to navigate your career, and gives a sense of belonging within a professional community.
Networking can be looked at from three lenses: information exchange, self-development and referrals.
Information exchange: People learn from each other. Exchanging information with people in your network can help you navigate your career, and provides a roadmap for moving forward in your professional development. Therefore, the more you network, the more you will gain clarity on how to structure your career path.
Self-development: Networking enables you to connect with new people, thus helping you develop confidence in your communication skills and your thought processes. If you’re networking in person, it also helps you to learn how to engage in and sustain a conversation – this is a very important skill in the workplace.
Referral: By keeping in touch with your professional network, you might be able to stay on top of job openings that aren’t necessarily advertised. And if your connections are aware of your skill set, they may also be able to put in a good word for you so that recruiters take a closer look at your application.
How networking can help you secure a job
There are numerous ways that networking can help you land a job. Here are some of the top benefits it offers:
- The job market in Australia is close-knit. There’s a hidden job market, which means that not all jobs are advertised. If you have a solid network of professionals that you are connected with, you will become aware of this hidden job market and the opportunities available in the organisations you want to work for
- You can showcase your skills. While networking, make sure you have some samples of your work or a portfolio ready. This could be a website, blog, digital portfolio, or GitHub account – essentially, a platform that can help others understand more about you as a potential candidate for a job
- You can learn about your industry. Commence conversations with professionals who are currently in the industry/company that you want to work for or the role that you see yourself doing in the future. Ask them what kinds of skill sets their employers look for in candidates, how to stand out when putting together your job application, the types of projects they work on and any other burning questions you might have. Just don’t forget to thank them for their time!
- You stay top of mind. Keeping in touch with everyone you’ve met across networking events, conferences, meetups and so on can be a bit challenging. But that’s where LinkedIn comes in. Add these people to your LinkedIn network and touch base with them every few months. By doing so, you’ll be top of mind when it comes to landing your dream job
Who should you network with?
International students have a lot of avenues to explore when it comes to networking. To begin with, you can start conversations with your lecturer, then gradually branch out into student clubs and societies, networking events, conferences and meetups.
Websites like Meetup, LinkedIn and Eventbrite often list professional networking events in your city. You can also search for networking events on Facebook by using filters in the events section.
How to network
Networking isn’t as simple as just turning up at an event. It’s about establishing a genuine relationship with another person by getting to know them on a professional level. The idea here is to develop a long-lasting connection with someone so you can learn and grow.
After you’ve met someone at an event, make sure you take down their details. Then, you can add them to your LinkedIn network and continue the conversation by sending them a message or asking them some questions about the industry or role that they are currently in.
As you build up your online relationship, you might want to set up a Zoom catchup or meet them for coffee. By doing this, you’re showcasing proactiveness and a genuine interest in sustaining a professional relationship. This can help you to learn a lot about the industry you want to work in and allow you to stay on top of possible job opportunities.