The importance of building a professional network

1 year ago

Building a professional network can help guide several different actions. Whether you’re in a full-time role, seeking roles, internships or work experience, your network can help you unlock and access many different opportunities.

I will be talking around these in today’s blog and how they have helped me shape my career in technology. As always, please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn and follow my entry-level journey - www.linkedin.com/in/jamiemartin01

Optimise LinkedIn

LinkedIn has become one of the most influential social media platforms for building a professional network. LinkedIn allows individuals to build a personal brand and make them accessible for businesses to understand who you are and your career journey so far.

LinkedIn is a platform you can download from 16, however may not be being included in schools’ early careers support to their students.

I spoke with students aged 16-18 at Meopham School last week, where we discussed their options once they have finished sixth form. A very small % of students had engaged with LinkedIn – indicating it may have been dismissed as ‘important’ from the schools’ early career’s function.

Students stated they saw no direct value to their profile, with the lack of experience/qualifications to have been gained and available to add to the networking platform. Being present on LinkedIn doesn’t have to complex. Making a profile which has:

  • A professional profile picture
  • A title that is relevant – eg ‘Student at X, seeking open opportunities in Y’
  • Your GCSE grades – gives hiring managers an indication
  • Additional certifications gained – how about starting with Google’s free digital garage - https://learndigital.withgoogle.com/digitalgarage/
  • Follow some interests! This may help hiring managers shape a better understanding of you and may make interview processes that little bit smoother and relaxed!
  • Networking Events

    Networking events can be a great way not only to meet others, but also to learn industry trends that might be of an importance to your interest/career role. Since COVID-19, networking has become a reduced activity, resulting in professionals particularly in the early careers function missing out on big opportunities to meet others.

    Building a network is something that is always continuing and growing – there is no fixed time period to have the ‘perfect network’, it will change throughout your career and shape differently based on your ambitions and interests.

    You can find exciting, upcoming networking events through:

    Find Mentors!

    Finding a handful of mentors has been the most influential aspect to growing my career, something I was not advised on/taught at school.

    But what is a mentor? My definition of this is someone who can advise and grow your career 10x faster. These individuals may be your work colleagues, someone who works in a similar role in a different organisation, someone who works in a completely different role in a different industry, the list goes on!

    In other words, your mentor can be anyone who has the potential to add value to your personal development. They can advise on pretty much anything that you may need further help/support on and help you build a roadmap to achieve your goals.

    How to get one? Just ask… The worst they can say is no right?  Make your requirements clear in terms of what you’d like from them on a weekly/monthly basis and what you want to achieve from the relationship. You’d be surprised how many people are willing to give up 30/60 minutes a month to delegate their time to your progression!

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