The ability to make connections effectively is one of the most useful career skills to have, whether you are in work or seeking work.
Making connections can help you:
- Find out more about certain careers or sectors to help your career decisions.
- Get advice from people in your preferred sector about required skills; experience, applications, interviews and more.
- Find out about opportunities which are not widely advertised.
Success in three steps
Success in making connections depends on you being prepared, clear about your objectives and willing to nurture relationships.
Following these steps will help you to be successful:
- Research: Before you make contact or attend an event, do as much research as possible about the company, the sector, or the individual (if appropriate). This will enable you to ask informed questions, get the most out of the meeting and is more likely to impress the contact.
- Make contact: Initial contact could be online (LinkedIn) or in person, depending on the situation. Be clear about your objectives and what you are hoping to get from the interaction before making contact; i.e. is it information about the company’s recruitment procedures, personal insight about that person’s job role, their advice or tips on getting into the industry, whether they offer work placements?
- Follow-up: If your meeting or conversation has gone well, you will want to stay in touch, but remember to ask their permission; LinkedIn is an amazing way to keep track of your contacts. If they have requested some information from you, such as a CV, make sure you provide it.
Opportunities for making connections
University probably presents you with more opportunities to connect with helpful contacts than you will have access to at any other time in your life. The range of activities you can get involved in, the hundreds of events taking place every year, as well as all the new people you meet mean the scope for connecting is huge.
We have listed below a few ideas to help get you started:
Careers Service events: We organise hundreds of presentations, fairs, employer workshops (both centrally and in specific schools and faculties) and events where you can connect with employers every year. Employers attend these events because they want to meet you; so, make sure you do not miss out! Check our events calendar now.
Employer in Residence: Every Wednesday we will have a different employer in the Careers Centre, and YOU will have the chance to quiz them 1:1 – it’s the perfect opportunity to make that all-important connection. You could even get them to look over an application that you wanted to submit!
LinkedIn: Gives you the opportunity to contact employers and to connect with Leeds Alumni to get insider information or advice about career paths.
Social media: Social media and networking sites hugely increase the potential breadth of your network. How about you follow our Instagram? We interact with loads of different employers and showcase opportunities that you might not be aware of.
Professional networks: Professional bodies or associations often have local or regional networking groups or events providing the ideal opportunity to meet people in your preferred sector. Directory of the professions has a searchable database of more than 300 UK professional bodies and associations.
Learned societies: Similar to professional bodies, they represent the interests of academic disciplines or groups of disciplines. The Wikipedia listing of learned societies by country is one of the most comprehensive we’ve found.
Personal networks: Include your friends, family, tutors – basically anyone you know! Do not underestimate the potential of your existing contacts and who they might know or how they might be able to help you.
Informational interviews: Help you learn more about a target industry or job role and expand your network.
Making connections: The golden rules
Making connections is not about asking for a job
Use initial contact to ask for advice, opinion, tips or information and then work on developing the relationship if appropriate.
It’s a two-way process
Be prepared to help others and they are more likely to help you.
Connecting with employers is not necessarily a quick fix
Strong connections take time and effort to develop so it’s best to start a while before you start looking for a job.
Do what you say
If you promise to do something, whether this is sending an e-mail, your CV, or providing them with information or a useful contact of yours, make sure you do it!
Don’t worry if it takes some practise
Connecting with employers can be daunting. Be kind to yourself as you start building your confidence when making connections. The sooner you start and the more you do it, the easier it will get!