“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is a cliché we’ve likely all heard at some point in our lives. However, when it comes to networking at university, it holds up more than you might think. As part of our Student Advice series, we look at the benefits of networking for students and sum up five key points to make it work for you.

Extend your network

It sounds obvious, of course you want to extend your network within your chosen industry, but it helps to get to know other people as well. Being in a position to make good recommendations for others benefits everyone; they might have found a solution to their problem and you look like you’re in the know. It’s worth bearing in mind that conversations can sometimes lead you into a completely different creative or career path, which is no bad thing.

Prepare your pitch

Your ‘elevator pitch’ is that killer quick introduction that perfectly sums you up – and it should only be as long as a quick elevator ride! Of course, you’re at university and you may still be figuring that part out but remember, it’s not set in stone it’s simply an introduction. The most effective way for students to network is to ultimately let the other person lead the conversation as you ask questions. After all, it’s a universal truth that people love to talk about themselves, however, you need to be prepared to speak highly about yourself as well.

Choose wisely

Attending networking events is a priority for a lot of students, but don’t be tempted to just hit them all and hope for the best. Keep an eye out at your faculty office, your university’s website and social media, as well as sites like Meetup and Eventbrite for events that are relevant and in your field of study or interest.

Do a personal inventory

So, you’ve found a potential connection and they’ve asked if they could find you on LinkedIn, this shouldn’t be the moment you realise you’ve not updated it in years. You’ll feel a lot more confident in your ability to network as a student if you’ve got your own offering sorted. As well as your initial intro, check your social media and CV are up to date and professional and it can be useful to have some business cards with your details on it – but gauge carefully when to give them out, if they want it they’ll likely ask.

Some quick wins

  • Don’t get drunk – the wine may be free, and the idea of a bit of ‘Dutch courage’ might be appealing but student networking events are still professional networking events.
  • Dress appropriately – events are often smart/casual affairs so clean, smart trainers are likely fine but your battered Converse trainers are not.
  • Be brave – it can be a daunting task if you’re shy, but networking at university should be enjoyable so don’t overthink it, it’s just having a chat!

As part of our commitment to offering you the best student experience we can, you’ll find plenty of great tips, practical advice and information on our blog pages. From getting to know a new city to taking care of your mental health, we’ve got you covered.

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