How do you build an effective network? Don’t wait until graduation; you can start while you’re studying. Here are five tips.
- Network as a student
Get friendly with your fellow undergraduates; you never know when they will have the chance to recommend you for a role or vice versa. Also be aware that professors, lecturers and tutors are professionals too and may be able to put you in touch with industry contacts.
- Do work experience
We’ve already mentioned the value of work experience, which includes the ability to network within your host organisation. Don’t forget they also have connections in the industry, so take every opportunity to meet new people in the sector through people you already know.
- Attend industry events
Whether it’s for the tax industry or a related sector such as business, attending conferences and networking events is a good way to make connections. Your alumni association and organisations such as The Tax Institute are easy places start.
- Find connections via social media
Social networking platforms, such as LinkedIn and industry forums are a great way to make initial contact with people who may turn into professional connections. Make sure your profile is professional and up-to-date, then join relevant groups. Be active by asking questions and participating in discussions.
- Apply for a formal graduate program
A number of organisations in the public and private sector offer formal graduate programs that include networking components. You will network with other program participants and industry professionals, and may even have a mentor.
The best way to network is through people you already know, but if you don’t know anyone, the key is to have confidence to introduce yourself. If you find yourself alone at a function, approach people in groups of three or more (so you’re not interrupting a deep discussion). Introduce yourself and show interest in the people who are in the sector you want to get into.
It’s a good idea to have some kind of professional contact card to swap for a business card as well. Don’t forget to follow up with a polite, personal email: “It was nice to meet you at [event]…” Good luck!
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