In India, millennials have been quick to learn technical skills but in a digital era where automation and robotics are disrupting labour markets, acquiring the much-needed soft skills is the only way to gain edge over machines and competition.
Today, networking is one of the most high-in-demand employability skills. Every now and then, you might have heard about the importance of networking. Everybody talks about it. But do we really understand its importance for our career progression?
According to a LinkedIn survey, 85% of critical jobs are filled via professional/business networking. Before jobs are posted online, they’re filled either internally or through a referral from a trusted source. Fresh graduates need to realise that networking is not about meeting as many people as possible. It is about meeting the right people – those who are in your field, are well-connected, can vouch for your ability and refer you to potential employers.
If you are an international student in the UK, you should start networking even before you begin university. You should join various education and work-related social media groups as soon as you have been admitted and be active in these groups.
Once you head to university, attend specific events within and outside the campus to interact with students, alumni, and trade experts. It is crucial that you grow your personal and professional network on- and off- campus to make yourself visible among your professors, peers, and potential employers, and increase your chance of securing an internship, a job or even a Tier 2 sponsorship.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind to help you network better, on and off-campus, in the UK-
Networking within the university –
- Participate in departmental activities and institutional events –
Your professors are well connected to the industry so be attentive and participate actively in class to get yourself noticed and build a rapport with them. Host events and seminars related to your field or collaborate with other departments in your campus to co-host events. Participate in institutional events such as new student advising or career day to network with others and improve your visibility.
- Be part of a student organisation –
Every university has various student organisations. Sign up for one or multiple organisations to socialise with other students. Build your way into becoming a member of the organising committee, which will not only look good on your resume but will also open more networking opportunities.
- Get involved with university clubs –
Become a member of university clubs (Marketing, Finance, Engineering, etc) and unions based on your major and interest. Both of these are great platforms to connect with students from diverse cultural and professional backgrounds with shared common interests. This networking opportunity will aid you in adjusting towards your university life in a new country and help you network with like-minded individuals with similar career aspirations.
- Socialise with your classmates –
Socialising with students in your class is a great way to make new friends, especially since you all share a common ground. The friends you make in university might turn into useful business contacts in the future.
- Connect with the alumni –
Reach out to your professor or your university’s career cell and enquire if they can connect you with the alumni. LinkedIn is a great platform to connect with an alumnus and build your business network. You can also reach out to one of India’s leading UK educational consultants, ScotsGrad, whose advising members are alumni of leading UK universities. Their expertise lies in their first-hand experience of the UK education system and job market.
- Reach out to your career cell –
A university’s career cell plays a crucial role in locating job and internship opportunities for students during campus placements. The career cell is in touch with firms and industrial establishments and works throughout the year to facilitate contacts between graduates and companies. Therefore, reach out to your career cell for advice. Attend their career guidance programmes involving resume writing, mock interviews, group discussions to enhance your soft skills, make an impressive HR resume and excel at job interviews.
Networking outside the university
- Leverage LinkedIn –
The internet is a powerful tool to stay connected with your family, friends, alumni, and business associates. Leverage LinkedIn to find jobs, maintain a professional portfolio, and connect with people within the same industry. LinkedIn has also introduced the Events Hub, a tool that allows you to create and join professional events, invite connections, and have conversations with other attendees. This is a great way for you to build your LinkedIn network by meeting your existing connections and making new connections.
- Join closed groups –
Join a diverse set of closed groups since each offers unique networking opportunities. For instance, become a member of online groups on social media platforms like Facebook for business networking. There are also closed groups that are formed based on a shared interest or for people from a specific profession. The primary purpose of such groups is to share ideas and information. Community groups are also great for business networking and building professional relationships.
- Attend conferences –
The importance of face-to-face interactions with others from the business community is often forgotten. Integrate yourself with the business community around you by attending industry conferences in your chosen field. You will find various trade associations hosting conferences round the year to discuss current and future industry trends specific to their area of expertise. At these conferences, you will get to meet and interact with other people who are active in your line of work. Head to various websites like Conference Alerts where you will find a list of all upcoming professional events in the UK.
- Take student tours –
Tours are a great way to explore the new city, its culture, and meet students from different universities as well. For instance, The Keltic Ginger organises day trips and events for students studying in Scotland, those visiting the country or interested in exploring the fascinating region.
- Volunteer to work –
Volunteering is a great way to gain work experience and meet new people. It also offers you the opportunity to show people your skill set and even secure a job.
As an international student, it is important to leverage all opportunities to meet people and build your support network. When networking is done well, it will help you land a job faster, as well as give you a competitive edge throughout your career.
For further guidance on the nuances of business networking, reach out to ScotsGrad, an unique educational consultancy providing end to end advisory services to Indian students aspiring to study and work in the UK. We are the only educational consultancy in India to offer post study career support including job application assistance, post-study work visa advice, interview, networking and career guidance.
Our network of mentors are former graduates of leading UK universities and presently experts in their respective professional domains. Our UK study and work experience along with subject-matter expertise will not only help you gain a better understanding of the country’s educational and professional sector but will also prepare you well for your life in the UK.
|To Do List for Attending a Professional Networking Event|
|● Before the event, read about the individuals and their industry
● Prepare some conversation starters
● State your name clearly at the event
● Maintain eye contact while introducing yourself
● Maintain a good posture
● Use a firm handshake
● Make personal connections by discussing hobbies, interests, etc.
● Initiate conversations with people you don’t know and engage with them
● Exchange business cards/coordinates
ScotsGrad is a pioneer in establishing the UK, especially Scotland, as a premier destination for higher education among students in India. We provide end to end advisory services including psychometric assessment, personalised interactions, university and visa application assistance, and career guidance.
The personalised interactions with our members, former graduates of leading UK universities, ensure a holistic and systematic approach. We are also the only consultancy in India enabling “career success” for any student going to the UK.
Get in touch with us through any of our social media platforms:
All the Best!