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How to build a network

How to build a networkThey say it’s not what you know but who you know. So, what if you don’t know anyone? Here’s how to make contacts, and keep them!

Be prepared to sell yourself

Before you meet anyone, or start an internship, sit down and think about your strong points and what it is you are trying to achieve. That means that when you do come across someone you would like to impress, you can introduce yourself quickly and professionally while getting all the key points across.

Get out there

Take every opportunity that you’re given to meet with people in the profession you are interested in. Try structured approaches like getting an ementor or applying for an internship with the Social Mobility Foundation, or just following up informal contacts and head to career fairs. Actually talking to people about their work and your interests is the best way for you to find out about a profession and to start making useful links with people who maybe able to help you if you decide to make that your career.

Get a good email address

You might have done all of the right things when you met someone or your introductory email might be brilliant, however if your email address is dizzygirl@email.com, that is the first thing that will be seen. Create a sensible address, based on your name which you can use for applications and career contacts.

Follow up

Make sure you always follow up on any interesting contact you have made. Write a courteous and enthusiastic email saying how useful you found the meeting, thanking them for their time and asking if you can stay in touch in the future.

If you have any open-ended question about the profession or their role, you could also add that in, something like, ‘You mentioned that you work a lot with hedge funders and I wondered what is the difference between your roles?’ This shows you were listening to what they said and would like to find out more. On the whole, people are happy to give advice and talk about their own experiences if they feel they have an interested audience.

Keep a detailed address book

Get a notebook where you keep the details of useful contacts. As well as their name, phone number and email address, write down when and where you met them and a few notes on the conversation you had any follow up emails or phone calls. This will help you to build a network and place people easily if you meet them again. It is also great practice for success in virtually any career.