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How to network as a student

Employability Service

Category: Student support services

11 March 2020

On top of university assignments, projects, part-time work, volunteering and hobbies you are told that you need to ‘network’ too. So what does that really mean?

Surely networking is something that business people do and not students?

Networking as a student is a great way to learn about particular organisations and gain industry insights. It can help you to investigate opportunities and is invaluable whilst job hunting. It need not be scary and is really about building connections and genuine relationships.

Map of Western Europe with pins in some countries, and string making connections between the various pins

An easy place to start is by using LinkedIn. This is risk-free networking! If you're studying at ARU and haven’t already got a profile on LinkedIn, attend one of the Employability Service Be Your Best Sessions on Creating your network or come along to our Drop-In sessions for advice. Connect to your course colleagues, lecturers, friends, distant relatives, and friends of your parents.

Use the University Alumni tool on LinkedIn. Search for ARU graduates who have taken the same degree. Where are they working, and what are they doing? Is this something of interest to you? If so, why not send them an invitation to connect, explaining who you are. Try using LinkedIn to search for HR managers or other professionals in your area of interest. The company pages on Linkedin are a goldmine of information and really useful for checking out their latest jobs and the backgrounds of the people they recruit.

Again, if you're already a student at ARU you can attend our Employability events on campus and join student-run organisations.

Three people greeting each other, two of them shaking hands

Volunteering and attending talks are also good ways to network. When you're going to a networking event, make sure you do your research beforehand. Have a clear idea of who you want to speak to, why you are interested in the organisation and why you are approaching them. Prepare what you are going to say, if you need help with this, check out the Elevator Pitch Builder on the Career Centre.

One of the biggest mistakes that people make is not introducing themselves. I heard a fantastic discussion at a careers fair between an employer and a student. It was only after the student had walked away that they realised that, although they had discussed a great summer placement opportunity and the employer had asked him to get in touch, the student hasn’t told him his name!

Have courage to attend events; if you are nervous why not go along with a friend for support? Networking is something that gets easier with practice! Of course, it doesn’t have to be formal. Sometimes those conversations with people at the coffee machine or in the queue for lunch can be just as valuable.

Further help and resources are always available on the Career Centre.

Good luck and enjoy building your network!

By Jen Little, Employability & Careers Adviser

Image of map by TheAndrasBarta on Pixabay.


The views expressed here are those of the individual and do not necessarily represent the views of Anglia Ruskin University. If you've got any concerns please contact us.