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Networking a vital skill that comprises personal communication, relationship management and professionalism, as a means of building connections with others to help your career develop. In its early stages, it can involve approaching or reaching out to individuals or organisations that can aid in your professional life. This can be done in person, or virtually using platforms such as LinkedIn, but key to both is being proactive. Having established a connection, this skill can then also mean evolving or strengthening that connection over time.

Employers value networking as a skill since it is a key part of maintaining good workplace relationships, whether between colleagues, collaborators or clients. Even before you enter employment, networking will help you to gather intelligence and direct your career.

Activities where you could develop your network

Networking takes place from the very start of your degree course. Your classmates, neighbours, family members and staff all form part of your network, if you simply maintain connections with them. University alumni and visiting lecturers can also be incorporated, as well as connections you make through career events such as placement years, career fairs and employer presentations.

  • LinkedIn This vast professional social network is custom-made to help you build your contacts.
  • Meet the Professionals Networking sessions with UoM graduates are an ideal opportunity to explore career directions and establish connections there.
  • Talks, workshops and skills training sessions Run by employers or careers consultants; reach out to the organisers and speakers during and after the event.
  • Professional bodies Find out which professional body represents your target career area and see if you can join as a student member, this is normally quite inexpensive. They usually offer great opportunities to attend events and network with career professionals of all levels.
  • Media Club Don't miss out on these opportunities to network if you are interested in a media related career.

How is networking tested in recruitment?

Written applications often require a candidate to explain why they have chosen to apply to that particular company. Networking can be a key part of answering that question, by drawing from the personal experiences of those in your network. Interview questions will often revisit or follow up on this:

  • What made you apply for this position?
  • How did you research our company?
  • How would you define networking?
  • Relationship management is a key part of what we do. What does that look like to you?
  • Can you give an example of a time you had to build a new connection with someone from scratch?

If you are unsure how to structure an answer for either application or interview questions, visit the application and interviews section of our website and find out about the CAR (context, action, result) and STAR (situation, task, action, result) models. Our recommendations are based on feedback from employers.

Assessment centre group tasks are an example of networking in action. You will often be meeting other candidates for the first time, and quickly forging working relationships with them in a short timeframe. How you introduce yourself, accommodate others, work together and deliver results will all be scrutinised as evidence of how you build a professional network.

Also bear in mind that this scrutiny may extend to more informal parts of the event, such as icebreakers and meals. These are perfect times to network effectively, in order to demonstrate that you can build relationships quickly and find out additional information which could be useful in the future.