Whether you are entering the workforce, considering further study or you have other plans entirely, understanding the importance of networking and social media is an important aspect of learning how to shape your future.
When considering your future employment or graduate pathway, never underestimate the importance of connecting with others and making your skills visible. Work experience and industry events are great ways to connect, and a strong online presence will help you to build professional relationships, make contacts and promote yourself.
The best way to find opportunities is through industry contacts and online visibility.
Seek out industry events or other opportunities to connect professionally. It is recommended that you develop a habit of building relationships as early as possible, ideally while you are still studying. Examples include company or industry seminars, presentations or open days, as well as University events such as our careers and graduate fairs. Put your details down on mailing lists if available, take business cards when provided or offered to you, and take opportunities to talk with industry people by having some questions prepared. When speaking with clients and industry professionals always be polite, interested and well-presented. If you are communicating online, be aware of your phrasing, grammar and punctuation.
Join professional associations
Your employability can be enhanced by getting involved with a relevant professional association. As a member, you are able to attend events and network with professionals in your field. This can provide exceptional opportunities for establishing key contacts to enter a particular industry. Many offer a range of benefits, including regular updates, events, guest speakers and mentoring programs.
Read as much as you can about your industry or area of interest and stay on top of related current events. You can do this by setting up Google alerts with key search terms, regularly monitoring the business sections of news services or publications, and by keeping up with national or international sites that report on trends in industry and job markets. This information will help you to ask relevant questions when communicating with industry professionals or potential clients and employers, and shows that you are interested and committed.
Promote your skills and interests
Show your enthusiasm by promoting your skills and interests to potential employers and clients. You can do this via social media with your online profile, as well as through verbal and written communication. Learn more about skills development to help you to identify and define your skills and experience.
Stay in contact
If you attend an event or establish communication with an individual, try to maintain contact if you can. Be careful not to contact too frequently, but remember that occasional, relevant communication can be well-received. Examples include a thank you email following an event, a follow-up question or comment, or a LinkedIn post expressing enthusiasm for a seminar you attended. Make sure that you only contact individuals via professional channels, or through details that they have given you directly.
Online profiles and social media are essential ways for you to connect with employers and stay current in today's job market and professional networks. Whether you are based in Australia or intend to pursue your interests internationally, a strong, professional online presence is an important aspect of your employability.
You should start building a professional profile as soon as you start university. Include information about your studies, interests and work experience (volunteering, internships etc) and continue to build your profile over time.
LinkedIn is a database of over 400 million professionals. It is a powerful tool for researching employment pathways, identifying industry contacts, connecting with University alumni and joining professional interest groups. It is highly recommended that you sign up, create a profile and start growing your network as soon as you start university. The more connections you have, the more you will benefit from the LinkedIn community. If you need assistance with building your profile, use LinkedIn for Students to help you get started.
LinkedIn should be your primary professional profile, but other sites also offer profile services which you might be interested in exploring.
- Glassdoor – job search and job profile site which also incorporates millions of company reviews and approval ratings provided directly by employees. This helps you to target companies directly and also makes you visible to potential employers through your online job profile.
- SEEK – one of Australia's most popular job search sites, and offers a profile service to match candidates and employers. You can also request job suggestions and seek advice and tips on careers, interviews and guidance.
- CareerOne – Australian job site which allows you to search for jobs and build a profile. It also offers additional services such as resume review, career advice and guidance on matching with a suitable recruitment agency. The parent company, Monster, provides similar online services around the world.
- Adzuna – comprehensive job site offering candidate and employer matching, industry and job statistics and 'smart matches' based on your searches and profile.
In addition to your professional profiles, potential employers might also view your personal social media accounts, such as your Facebook or Instagram account. To control access to your personal accounts, consider updating your privacy settings, choosing a less recognisable username, or removing content that you would not wish a potential employer to view. For personal accounts that remain publicly visible, check regularly for updates posted by friends and restrict any content that you do not wish others to see.
Need some more help?
Attend a seminar or workshop on networking on LinkedIn. Check Stop 1 for scheduled sessions.