2.4 Developing your networks
You’ve already learned how feeling part of a community and having support from others can boost career resilience. So building those networks further is clearly a sensible strategy.
But networking, and in particular career networking, can be an area where individuals lack confidence. Some people feel the word conjures up images of unfair advantage, others are unsure how to approach it.
Activity 6 Networking
Watch the video ‘What is networking?’, in which Wendy Woolery, Careers Advisor at The Open University, explains how you can extend and manage your network. You might want to pause the video to note some of the main points that are covered.
Now, identify three action points that would help you to extend and strengthen your community or career network.
You might have chosen to call an ex-colleague or agreed to volunteer on a project outside your immediate team – extending your connections a little bit further.
Research shows that having contact with individuals outside your immediate circles proves highly effective. It broadens your exposure to new messages and options, and the range of people looking on your behalf. So venture further afield as your confidence grows.
In recent years networking opportunities have been considerably enhanced by the internet.
Of all the online platforms, LinkedIn is the one that can have the greatest impact on your career development. You can use it to find former colleagues or schoolmates, and to find new contacts by sector, job, company and location. It can be a rich source of new information and insight.
Activity 7 Exploring LinkedIn
Take some time to explore the opportunities on LinkedIn. Depending on your current level of familiarity with this platform, you could:
- read (make sure to open any links in a new tab/window)
- set up a profile at www.linkedin.com
- search for your long-lost colleagues or school friends
- search an organisation you are keen to join, to see how your experience matches those who have roles that interest you
- read the hot topic threads in groups for the career you’re aiming to get into.
You might have chosen to review the Open University’s LinkedIn page, which currently has over 360,000 followers and is thus a significant hub of expertise and contacts in every conceivable sector in the UK and abroad.
Developing your personal networks can give you access to a wide range of knowledge and expertise, but you may decide you need professional support to develop your career resilience further. You’ll find out more about the support provided by careers coaches and other counsellors in the next section.