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The Benefits of Growing Your Professional Network

By Joe O'Brien, on 10 July 2020

Read time: 3 minutes

Written by Glyn Jones, Careers Consultant at UCL Careers

We’ve previously shared a blog post offering useful tips on how to grow your online network, however today we take a step back and ask, why are we recommending you cast out your social net and start connecting with people?

The ideal scenario is that you reach out to someone working for your dream organisation, you attach your CV and hey presto, they offer you a job. Unfortunately, real life is rarely this straightforward.

We certainly encourage you to make speculative approaches for graduate employment or work experience, however if this is the only benefit you see to reaching out to those working in your sectors of interest, you may find this to be a long, unrewarding process.

So here are some other benefits that come from reaching out and building your professional networks, which you may not have thought of.

  1. Gain insights into your industry of interest

Through speaking with those working in a sector of interest, you’ll be able to gain insights about that industry, how things work, its trends and challenges. This provides you with knowledge of the sector that is both insightful and current. To have this information incorporated into your applications or to refer to this in an interview could truly set you apart from other candidates.

  1. Find out if a sector really interests you

You can read job profiles on graduate job sites such as Prospects or look at career sections on employer websites to get an idea of what a role involves. But if you want detailed information about the day to day work, there’s nothing better than speaking with someone who actually does that job. By having conversations with people working in the industry, you’ll be able to ask questions that you wouldn’t normally find answers to. Through finding out about work cultures and expectations, you will gain a greater understanding of the industry as a whole or specific employers within the sector. You can then use this information to decide if you fit in to this environment.

  1. Learn about different career pathways

Everyone has a different career pathway; some people might have gained experience through an internship while others choose postgraduate study or taking a sideways move and changing industries. By hearing from others who have gone through this process, you may come across pathways that you otherwise never would have considered. You may learn about a specific internships or work experience programme that you didn’t even know existed. It might be that you hear about an organisation’s work and find that it aligns with your own aspirations. Learning about other people’s career journeys might just be the help you need to start your own.

  1. Enhance your future job opportunities

By growing your network, you’re making links with potential future colleagues or employers. If you’re focused on working in a particular industry you’d be surprised how you may come across the same individuals multiple times. Your main motivation for pursuing online networking could be seeking a full time job or gaining some work experience, but even if this does not come to fruition immediately, you never know when these contacts may prove useful. Even if opportunities don’t come directly from those you’ve contacted, they may know someone else who has an opportunity that may be of interest. So by making a good impression and growing these networks you’re putting yourself in a good position, which could mean opportunities coming your way in the future.

These are some of the different benefits that can come from networking with those working in your field of interest or potential job sectors. If you’d like to discuss how to go about identifying useful people or how to go about reaching out to these individuals, please do book a one-to-one appointment with UCL Careers.

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