Networking is all about making connections and building rerlationships with people in the field of work you are planning to enter. As many jobs are never advertised, networking can be a highly effective way of find out about vacancies and getting to know decision makers in your area of interest. As a postgraduate student it is important to take opportunities to network at conferences, meetings and events. It's important not to wait until you need a job to start networking, as it's a process which can take time, so keep an eye out for opportunities that arise throughout your studies to meet with other people working in the sector you are targeting.
Think about who you know. Make a list of your contacts, such as friends, family, colleagues, alumni, lecturers, supervisors or employers. Tap into wider networks such as your professional networks and outside interests.
LinkedIn is a very useful resource which over 200 million professionals use to exchange information, ideas and opportunities. Take a look at www.linkedin.com/alumni to see what graduates from your course are up to now.
Be organised. Keep a log of contacts made with corresponding dates, including name, method of contact, actions to take and result, such as booking an informational interview.
Practice what you would say in answer to ‘’So, tell me about yourself...’’ at a meeting or conference - what are the three things that you want everyone you meet to remember about you?
If you have developed expertise in a specific area through your studies e.g. technical or specialised knowledge, this may be of interest to your target employers.
Do your research so that you become an expert on your sector of interest. Know the main competitors and recent developments in the field. Make use of TCD databases such as FAME.
Scan current and archive media for new developments, emerging markets and organisations.
Let people know you are looking, what you are looking for and what your skill-set is.
Be confident, friendly and prepared to share information: networking is a two-way process.
Look for advice and not just a job. The information you obtain may be invaluable to you in the future.
Take small steps towards your goal – you may wish to consider short term, contract, or voluntary work for example. Try to build up your contacts list in the process.
Consider conducting some research with employers that interest you e.g. your Masters thesis or project work as part of your course.
Start with someone you know and at the first meeting ask them if there's anyone else they would recommend that you speak to.
Typical approaches could be by email, phone, letter or in person. Always follow up a meeting or phonecall with a thank you email or letter.
Conduct informational interviews with your target employers or people doing the job you would love to do - find out how they developed their own career, what opportunities there are in the sector, what training might be important.
Complete well-researched speculative applications and send to your target employers and follow up afterwards.
Promote your work through freelance activities such as writing articles for relevant journals.