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Expand and use your network

Networking is about building relations and being authentic whilst doing it

Many people think that they must be a born salesperson to be able to network, and that networking mostly happens at fairs and big events. But networking is about building relations and being authentic whilst doing it. It’s not about taking on a ”role” when you network. Do it on your terms a be sincere about it.

 

Be interested before being interesting

When you are looking for a job, it’s often about how you can use your network. But when you work on building your network, it’s not about what others can offer you, but what you can offer others.

In a short video,  the speaker Christopher Barrat gives some simple advice on how to build your network:

  • Participate in conversations, events, and meetings, so you get to talk to people you don’t know
  • ”Be interested before being interesting” – be curious and focus on getting to know others rather than them getting to know you
  • Offer your help – share concrete information and opportunities with others

Get more advice from Barrat in his TED talkwhere he talks more about being interested in others and why you should look for an ”open 3” at networking events.

 

How to network on social media

Social media is more than just funny memes and cute cat videos. LinkedIn is used when hiring a new employee in a Danish company, in almost every other case. It also gives you the opportunity to show your professionalism and connect with many people, who might possibly help you in your job search.

LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are very likely the biggest social media platforms in Denmark. We differ in the way we use they, but you will not get around LinkedIn. If you do not have a profile you should create one – especially if you strive to grow your professional network. Roughly speaking, you can use LinkedIn to build your professional relations, while use Facebook and other social media to cultivate your private contacts.

 

Your LinkedIn-profile is your digital CV

LinkedIn is primarily a professional medium, created to be a forum for likeminded academics. See your LinkedIn profile as your digital CV on the Internet – one that everyone can google.

Be precise in your description of what you are looking for and who you are, just like when writing your CV. Think about who you would like to aim your profile at. Which direction would you like to go?

Many use keywords in their “heading,” so they can be found when people search for specific things. Would you like to be found when organizations look for a new web administrator? Try brainstorming on words that they would typically use when they do a search and match them on your profile.

When filling out your profile, you could e.g. write about your degree, your earlier jobs, your competences and perhaps your specialization. Just like when you write your CV, you don’t have to pay equal attention to everything. Emphasize and go into details with some of the things you have done – with the recipient in mind. If you need help filling out your profile, you can find lots of LinkedIn guides on Google. Also, make sure to have a good picture of yourself on your profile. Ditch the vacation picture and choose one where you smile and look forthcoming and serious.

 

How to use your LinkedIn to expand and cultivate your network

Think in dialogues rather than clicks. Your connections do not equal relations, you can use in your job search. You need more than just a click. Dialogue is the only to both develop your existing relations but also grow new ones.

Here are some options on how you can cultivate your relations, stay top-of-mind and in contact on LinkedIn:

  • Comment and give input on other people’s posts – give help and input to others
  • Invite somebody to lunch or a coffee meeting
  • Send relevant links to others who you think would benefit from them
  • Send a personal greeting – for instance, a “thank you for your help”
  • Share what you do: Write a status update or an article
  • Congratulate someone on their new job or birthday, either as a comment or a direct message (keep away from the standard messages and write a personal message instead)
  • Write a recommendation of someone
  • Give recognition of a connection’s competences (the ones you can vouch for)
  • Share your contacts with others and help them

This is how you strengthen your relations and not only “collect” LinkedIn-connections.

Join a network – or create a new one

Networks exist everywhere. You already have a network in the relations you have, even though you might not have made a big effort. But there are also more professional and established networks in various fields. You can meet others who are in the same situation as you and you can spar and help each other in the transition from university to a full-time job. Many unemployment funds (a-kasser) will have offers for you.

Join SDU’s Alumnet, even while you study. It’s SDU’s official network for alumni where you can meet students, alumni and lecturers. You can use it to stay in touch with fellow students in various groups and to find a mentor or offer help to mentor others. You also get access to various alumni events.

You can likewise develop your competences – and add more to your CV – by establishing a network group yourself. To establish something new, to organize and coordinate, and motivate others to be a part of your initiative, are much-coveted competences on the job market.

It says something about you as a person, and it shows your way to handle challenges.

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