03 August 2021

Why networking is the most important thing you’ll do this summer

By Alaya Seoudy, Alumni Engagement Assistant

It’s 26 March 2021, an email comes through on my phone and it reads “As part of the government Kickstarter scheme, Future First are delighted to be recruiting for two vacancies”. It was the best email I received in a long while and I started to complete the application form straight away. 

I’m now four months into my role as an Alumni Engagement Assistant at Future First. The reason why I received that email in the first place is that my previous college was signed-up as a Future First member school and, in turn, I had signed up to my alumni network upon leaving that college. 

Who knew that an alumni network I signed-up to years ago would enable me to get the job I’m in today? It just goes to show the importance of sowing seeds today, that you will be able to reap in the future. 

My experience has taught me that some of the most important seeds you’ll sow today come in the form of networking. After all, everyone knows the quote ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know‘.  

Networking seems daunting at first but it’s not. Let’s break it down with some simple tips to help get you started: 

1. Know yourself and Identify your ‘personal brand’

It’s important to spend some time reflecting on what it is you enjoy, what you’re interested in, what your goals and values are, as well as the skills and attributes you have and the experience you possess. This will make reaching out to people a lot easier and help them to better understand you and what you’re after.

Check out prospects.ac.uk – there’s some great resources and quizzes to help you figure things out and the Prince’s Trust can help you navigate your personal brand

2. See it as making friends, not connections

You would probably feel awkward if a stranger approached you to merely use you as a stepping stone. A good working relationship is built upon establishing common ground, trust and maintaining that rapport. Put it this way, would you be more inclined to help your friend or a stranger? 

Watch this video about how to network in the right way, and check out some advice from the professionals that we recorded for National Careers Week 2021

3. Make a LinkedIn profile 

Not only do an increasing amount of employers ask for a LinkedIn profile on applications, it’s also the easiest way to connect with people from everywhere! Start by connecting with people you know, perhaps your peers, those who attended the same school, college or university as you. Then consider connecting with a speaker you enjoyed listening to or follow organisations you’re interested in. Doing these simple things will instantly open your eyes to a whole new world of opportunities.

Here’s some tips for students who want to get started on LinkedIn, and there’s some really useful videos here on simply getting started with LinkedIn, have a look at this one first:

4. Be proactive and seek networking opportunities 

Lockdown meant a lot of in-person events were cancelled, while we wait for the world to fully open up again, attend webinars and connect with speakers and other attendees. People are more open to virtual networking now more than ever – this is your chance to expose yourself to a variety of important contacts. 

Check out free events on Eventbrite – just use the search bar to find the subjects you’re interested in and filter by online courses / free courses.

5. Join a mentoring scheme

There are so many mentoring schemes available, your mentor will support you with both personal and professional development but could also be the vital contact helping to unlock your next opportunity. Remember mentors have set time aside to help you!

Check out Avado’s FastFutures programme – it’s a free 12 week course including 1-1 mentoring for those aged 18-24 and the deadline is 31st August 2021.

6. Join your schools/ the national alumni network

You spent a large portion of your life within school, once you leave those gates the support doesn’t have to end there. Joining your school’s alumni network is your safety net, where people help support and guide one another. You will be able to connect with former students who have progressed into further education, training and work. You will gain insight into a variety of roles and industries and have access to great volunteering opportunities to bolster that CV. Look at my own experience – you have no idea what opportunities people can help you unlock unless you try. So why dismiss an entire community waiting to connect with you? 

Join your school’s alumni network today!

 

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The benefits of volunteering with Future First: what’s in it for me?
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