Networking is simply the art of holding a conversation and making a positive impression to form a mutually beneficial connection with someone. In reality, networking is something you do every day with your friends, colleagues and the new people you meet in your life.
In terms of your career, networking can be a useful tool in developing your labour market knowledge and exploring career openings. It can also lead you to unadvertised opportunities in the hidden job market. Finding a contact with knowledge about an industry, or about a company or job can save valuable time and increase your understanding of the post that you are applying for.
Networking should not be undertaken with the expectation of it leading directly to a job offer. View the act of networking as a series of steps enabling you to become a better informed candidate and to hear about opportunities that may never get advertised, to build up relevant work experience and be ready to spot and seize opportunities when they present themselves.
Download our handout on Networking [pdf].
Improve your networking skills
See our Career Snapshot: Making the most of employer events - a short guide to help you prepare for employer events and networking opportunities, or for a more detailed insight in to successful networking check out 'Improve Your Networking' - a guide to help you prepare for these conversations and ensure you make the most of employer events and networking opportunities.
Expanding your network
Expanding your network of contacts may enable you to research and plan your career effectively. You will need to develop and demonstrate some lateral-thinking as well as strong interpersonal skills and perseverance to network effectively. Networking is a skill that will be invaluable throughout your career. Consider the following avenues to expanding your network:
ideas to expand network
Consider who you already know
These could be contacts from a variety of settings, such as:
- Industry or business, that you've perhaps met during collaborations or whilst attending conferences
- Professional networks and special interest groups
- Within your own department - academic staff, postdocs, PhD students (past and present)
- Other students will go on to have their own networks, connect now so you can stay in touch in the future
Remember each of your contacts has their own network and people are often more willing to provide information and advice than you might think.
Alumni associations and the Professional Networking Directory
Alumni associations are a great way to meet new people and provide their members with plenty of opportunities for networking. Imperial has alumni associations all over the world who will be pleased to welcome you. Find out more on the alumni pages.
You can also network online using the Alumni Office’s Professional Networking Directory. The Directory allows you to search for, and contact, fellow Imperial alumni who have volunteered to provide professional advice based on their own personal experience. Set up an online account to access this.
If you have any questions about alumni associations or the Professional Networking Directory, please contact the Alumni Office directly.
Careers Service initiatives
Ask an Alum
Ask an Alum is a database of Imperial alumni who are available to answer your one of carer-related questions. It provides you wiht the chance to get an invaluable insight, dorect from a professional in insustry research. Find out more and register for Ask an Alum.
Alumni Mentoring Scheme
The Alumni Mentoring Scheme offers undergradautes and PhD students the opportunity to be mentored by a professional alumnnus owrking in your chosen field of interest, or a related profession. Find out more and register for the Alumni Mentoring Scheme.
LinkedIn is a widely used professional networking site that enables individuals to connect with one another or join interest groups across the globe. Once you are a group member, you will be able to interact with other members and you can learn more about their career paths, for example. You can also connect with people directly, pose questions or simply read up about current debates to inform your understanding of a job sector.
The key to using LinkedIn effectively is creating a personal profile and writing a short summary statement about you. For information about LinkedIn and how to use it effectively for your job hunting and networking visit the LinkedIn student webpages, which have a range of pdfs and videos to help get you started.
The Careers Service arranges a number of networking events. For further information, please see all of our networking events (look under employer events)