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Networking online

Site: OpenLearn Create
Course: Just Graduated? What Next?
Book: Networking online
Printed by: Guest user
Date: Tuesday, 29 Nov 2022, 22:29

1. Networking


Networking is a professional activity which you will do for the rest of your life; if you’ve ever had a negative impression of this word it’s time to dispel it. Networking in its simplest terms is professionals having a conversation. Networking may not always be about getting a job, in fact, it rarely is immediately, but you are laying the groundwork for the future and raising your profile.

*See Transcripts of Video Content section for a transcript of this video.

2. LinkedIn


Choose LinkedIn as a starting point. LinkedIn offers so much more than the opportunity to make professional connections. You can browse articles, learn more about the roles and sectors you’re interested in, update your online CV, and actively look for jobs. LinkedIn may have begun as an online CV platform but it’s now the world’s leading global professional networking site.

Your profile

  • Create a profile you’re confident to share immediately with employers (you will appear in searches if you’ve said you’re actively looking) – some employers/recruiters/agents head hunt using LinkedIn so you may be approached – ensure those employers are impressed
  • Be honest and authentic: your profile should mention your aspirations and promote you successfully, but avoid exaggeration
  • Add an interesting headline: LinkedIn defaults to your current job title, which may not reflect what you’re hoping to achieve by having a profile on this platform, e.g. if you currently work in a bar but aspire to work as an Accountant, this default won’t attract the right employers
  • Once you’re happy with it, update it regularly (same goes for your CV): it’s easy to forget what you’ve done

2.1. Using LinkedIn’s useful features

Research: use the articles, news, and vacancy adverts to conduct valuable research about relevant opportunities and company/industry developments – you can also look at professional profiles, learn the progression routes others have taken into the careers you’re interested in, and search for relevant companies in your sector.

Join Groups: you can join ready-made contacts in your chosen sector or connect with alumni from your university – these communities are more likely to offer information and advice than ‘cold-calling’ individuals.

Expand your awareness: LinkedIn is a global networking platform and a useful starting point for understanding the opportunities in other geographical areas – use the advanced search to find international opportunities.

Access to employers: many large and medium sized companies have a presence on this platform, however, this varies for smaller companies – follow the updates and news stories to expand your knowledge.

2.2. Top tips to expand your network using LinkedIn

Online networking has different etiquette than meeting in person, so it’s important to take these top tips into consideration so you can put your best foot forward. If done correctly, it could be the gateway to that dream job.

  1. You already have an immediate network to connect with – connect with your family, friends, colleagues, society or club members, students in your classes, academic staff, postgraduates, etc. – are you interested in their role or could they introduce you to a new contact?
  2. Avoid making ‘cold’ approaches – professionals are unlikely to connect with you without some context so don’t make the mistake of just clicking ‘connect’ without any context, add a friendly note or reminder of how/where/when you met
  3. Be specific about what you’re trying to achieve and looking for and how the person can help you, e.g. “I found your profile through the University of Edinburgh alumni group and I’m interested in hearing more about your role at […] and the steps you took to get to where you are”
  4. Use the articles and conversations happening on the platform to expand your commercial understanding of companies and sectors you are interested in – which companies are competitors? What is the company in the news for? Are there any essential skills all its employees list in their profiles?
  5. Remember that networking is a two-way process and should be mutually beneficial where possible – think about what you could offer others

Find out what employers can see. Many students and graduates haven’t thought about what their social media presence tells an employer. If you’re not convinced it would leave a positive impression, keep your personal accounts private. Alter your settings and be sure to use a suitable profile picture while you’re job searching. Anything you put into the public domain online is fair game for employers to research you. Try typing your name into a search engine and find out what they can see.

If you’re using LinkedIn and Twitter for job search or research think about how you can show you’re interested in the sector, are you sharing content, keeping up to date with the latest news and trends?

3. Twitter

Twitter has become an excellent business to business social tool. It offers an open access option to network, research roles, companies, and sectors, and find opportunities. One of the key advantages is you don’t need to be connected to see somebody’s tweets. 

  • Be professional: if you have a personal Twitter account, set up a new professional one with appropriate picture and profile
  • Find relevant professionals or pages to follow: Twitter refreshes constantly, follow pages which are of interest to you but avoid following too many feeds or you may miss updates from those you’re most interested in
  • Think about influencers: who are the influencers in your sector? Is it a company, an individual? Are thoughts/feelings driven by a news channel, public figure, or professional body? Do you your research
  • Search for work: Graduate recruiters share their advertisements on Twitter to raise awareness, as do most employers… it’s free advertising
  • Get involved: if you’re happy to engage in conversations and retweet interesting articles/posts, you can become an active voice in the conversation – ask questions, contribute to discussions but keep your interactions professional
  • Search for #s: there are plenty of hashtags to help you find relevant tweets