Someone somewhere has information that could lead you to your ideal job. So where are they? How do you find them? Answer: networking.

Networking is loved by some some and dreaded by others. Those dreading networking are probably thinking about a busy networking reception or maybe cold calling with no idea as to how their approach will be received. But these are not the only types of networking.

Great networkers have both great tactics and great strategy. Your networking strategy needs to combine both online and in person approaches and play to your particular strengths.

What is networking and why network?

Networking can be viewed as artificial and daunting but it doesn’t have to be. It’s simply having useful conversations with people who are likely to be flattered by you asking for their advice.

Through networking you have the opportunity to: make new contacts, find out key information about both recruitment/selection processes and specific employers that may inform your careers decisions, help you discover careers opportunities and openings you wouldn’t otherwise have found, and help you produce an application that stands out from those of your fellow applicants. Networking can also help you develop useful professional relationships that you can then maintain during the course of your career.

How to network effectively with people

Use LinkedIn for sourcing relevant contacts. You can search by alumni most of whom will be happy to talk to students from their old place of study, and/or by place of work. You can also contact people who aren’t alumni but work in a particular role, department, or organisation you wish to find out more about. Send a polite email either via LinkedIn or, if you have it, to their work email address introducing yourself and stating exactly why you wish to talk to them. Ask if you could have a few minutes of their time to chat on the phone, stating that you will call at a time that suits them, or even offer (if they are local) to take them out for a coffee.

If they don’t reply initially don’t take it personally, they may be very busy or have missed your email. Follow up a week later with (another polite) email simply forwarding the first, apologising for duplicating but stating you’re not sure if they have seen the first, and reiterating that you would very much appreciate a response from them. Not everyone will reply but many will!

Employers and recruiters

You can also make contact through graduate recruiters or organisations direct. Tell them you are doing your research to ensure that you are the correct fit for them and the role is right for you and that you would value the opportunity to speak to someone doing the job. This shows initiative and motivation and if you speak to someone who is relatively new you will find out what it is like joining the organisation and the level of training and support you can expect.

Make use of LSE Careers events

Not all careers events are large and busy. There are a number of smaller employer events we run such as presentations, workshops, and breakfast which can all be browsed and booked on CareerHub. These are all great opportunities for you to meet employer representatives on campus or at their offices.

Another option is our Meet an Alum programme running throughout Michaelmas and Lent Terms where you can meet alumni in a range of sectors. You may also find useful contacts through the LSE Alumni mentoring scheme where you’ll find details of alumni who have already expressed they are happy to speak to current students.

Finally don’t forget to ask those around you whether they know anyone working in certain industries. Family and friends are bound to know people who know people and so ask around because you may find making contacts even easier than you expect. So get out there and network – you never know, you may actually enjoy it!