The prospect of making connections and networking may seem daunting but it’s important to frame these as an opportunity to get a sense of what interests you and to find out about different job roles and companies. Find out how you can develop in these areas by reading our second guest blog post from Jessica Motley, University of Edinburgh student. Jessica shares her top tips and her advice is applicable to students of any degree discipline.
Over to Jessica…
I am a fourth year LLB law student and I am delighted to share my tips that I have used over the past several years to build my network in the fields and industries that I am interested in:
1. Create a LinkedIn profile
Although social media apps are changing all the time, it seems safe to say that LinkedIn has become a staple in the professional community, for the time being. Although I had a half-hearted LinkedIn page when I first arrived at University, I quickly learned that LinkedIn was a much more important resource than I had previously given it credit for. LinkedIn is a great platform to see what people are doing, find out about their job roles, what they do, and how they got started.
So, I got the most out of LinkedIn by developing my profile: I added a professional-looking photograph, took the time to fill out my different work and volunteering experience with relevant skills, and outlined my future career endeavours. Not only did I appear more professional to those that I reached out to, but I also had others reaching out to connect with me when they saw my work experience and society positions. My LinkedIn profile has helped me to connect with many of my fellow students, solicitors, advocates, professors and many other different types of professionals: you never know who could be a useful contact at some stage in your career!
2. Join societies
I cannot emphasise enough how important joining university societies (and not just as a committee member) has been for improving my networking skills and my connections. In my experience, speaker events and socials usually involve solicitors, advocates, professors and more professionals from different fields and different backgrounds who are incredibly keen to connect with and chat to students. If they don’t provide their contact information during the event, then reach out to the society afterwards and see if you can connect through LinkedIn. You do not need to contact every speaker that you come across but the ones who resonate with you and are pursuing careers that interest you would be worth reaching out to and trying to connect with.
One of the most beneficial steps I ever took was reaching out to an advocate, who was a judge in my mooting competition to see if he would be willing to discuss his career path and experiences with me and I was so pleased when he replied to my message and answered my questions.
3. Network with confidence
As I tend to be quite introverted, networking with confidence took me many months to develop. Networking is a skill that can be learned so don’t be disheartened or hesitant at the thought of approaching someone when you first start building connections. I soon realised that most, if not all, of the professionals I approached at events or online were willing to talk to an eager law student such as myself and answer all my questions. There was no topic that was too simple or query too obvious for them to answer and discuss with me, which decreased my anxiety when approaching professionals.
For further advice, visit the Careers Service webpage on “Using social media to find out and stand out”.
Jessica highlighted the benefits of LinkedIn for making connections. Did you know that another way to make connections is through Platform One, the University’s online community? You can find friendly people on Platform One who share a connection with the University and are open to supporting each other. These include alumni, staff and students who are happy to answer your questions and share their experiences with you. You can join here.
This short learning module on “Getting started with networking” is a great resource for more advice on building confidence and making a positive impression (University of Edinburgh login required).
(Image credit: geralt from Pixabay)