Looking for work can be disheartening, especially filling out application form after application form every day.
But there are other ways to come across jobs and career opportunities, for example, by building a network of contacts who can help you get into the kind of work you are looking for.
What is networking?
Have you ever heard the phrase, "it's not what you know, it's who you know". Well, it's not strictly true but there are definitely advantages to knowing people who can provide advice, assistance and opportunities in the world of work.
That's where networking comes in.
Networking is simply the process of building up professional contacts and there's lot's of ways to do it. Whether that's by striking up a conversation with someone over a shared professional interest or creating an online profile and connecting with other people in your industry or area of interest.
How can I network online?
Use social media to build connections
Knowing how to use social media to your advantage can be a game changer.
There are lots of social media sites that exist to specifically for networking such as LinkedIn or Opportunity. Making a profile on one of these gives you a chance to showcase the skills and experience you have, find and connect with other people who share your professional interests and find job opportunities that may not be available on traditional job sites.
It's important to know how to use these sites appropriately though so as not to put off potential employers and showcase yourself in a good light. Check out our tips on using a work-based social media account such as LinkedIn vs a personal Facebook account.
However, you can still use social media sites like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to network. A few ways that you can use these sites to build your professional network include:
- Seek out and follow people who work in the industry you are interested in or who have a job you aspire to do one day.
- Showcase your skills or knowledge by posting or creating content that will help you build a following and boost your profile.
- Treat your profile as though the person you'd want to hire you is looking at it.
- Follow accounts that post about career opportunities in your field.
Contribute to an online community
One of the biggest benefits about networking online is that you can connect with people who you may never get the chance to speak to face-to-face, no matter what you want to do for a living, there are others who share that passion.
You might find yourself become a part of this type of community naturally through the things that you like and interact with or the people you follow on social media. However, there are also websites, message boards, even entire social media platforms designed to bring people together over a shared interest and these can be a great way to build professional contacts if you seek them out.
Other ways to do this can be through blogging or vlogging about topics that community might be interested in but this can be time consuming so don't just do it for the sake of it, think about who you'd like to reach and what they might be interested in.
Go to online events and webinars
Eventbrite has details about upcoming online events that you can take part in such as training courses or webinars but you can also find similar opportunities through social media or by seeking them out using a search engine.
There's also the Developing the Youth Workforce Skills Academy, an online learning course that is running throughout July and August and brings you a mixture of videos delivered by industry experts, e-learning resources and interactive tasks to help you build your readiness for work.
Not only is it a chance to build your skills, knowledge and experience but you will meet other people who you may be able to speak to for advice, collaborate with or exchange contact information that might be useful in the future.
Doing all these things will put you in a great position to interact with other people that can help you professionally, but you still have to build a connection with that person.
Be prepared to reach out to others whether it's to pitch an idea for a piece of work, respond to something they have posted or to ask for career advice.
Remember, though that networking should be mutual. Spend time getting to know the person, be willing to volunteer your skills to help them and stay in touch with them to maintain the relationship you have built.
That way you can build a connection based on respect and that can be mutually beneficial.
For more information about the world of work, check out our W.O.R.K landing page.