Building strategic alliances while studying a postgraduate degree

Whether you were born to network, or think networking is just a self-serving friendship, it's a skill that will help us all when it comes to securing a job.
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Mike Dilnot
Team PostgradAustralia
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Creating a broad and diverse personal network can save a lot of time and frustration when it comes to seeking the right job at the end of your master program or doctorate. A strong network can not only help you to find and secure your dream job in the first place but can also act as an escalator to fast-forward your career within an organisation. In the future, if you choose to become an entrepreneur and open your own business, that very same network can be the key to your business’ growth and success!

Why you should network

Guidance

The members of your network will have years of professional experience between them, making them the perfect source of expert knowledge and experience. For example, a CEO will be able to offer invaluable coaching and advice, allowing you to develop the skills needed to enter a management level position.

Opportunities

As well as being your eyes and ears when it comes to new professional opportunities, your network will also be able to guide your personal development in areas such as discipline, business development and entrepreneurialism. With the support and inspiration of your network, who knows where your next business idea will take you? After all, Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook in his Harvard dorm room with the help of his close personal network!

Resources

A diverse personal network is an excellent hub of information and can provide invaluable insight into practically any area you desire. Pursuing a career in digital marketing? Your network will help you to keep up to date with all of the latest technologies and trends. Having a connection to a senior figure in an Australian company would keep you at the very forefront of the industry, and may even result in you being one of the first to hear of any new job opportunities that may arise!

When to build your network

It’s never too early to start networking. Steve Jobs was just 13 when he first met his business partner Steve Wozniak, then 18. Jobs later found out that Wozniak, at the time, was the first person to know more about electronics than he did!

Who you should network with

  • People in the same industry – a smart way to keep yourself up to date with news, developments and trends.
  • People with the same passion – a great way to motivate and drive yourself to accomplish your goals by comparing your own progress with that of others.
  • Professors, tutors and instructors – University professors can be a valuable resource who not only help you academically but also with your own personal development.
  • Co-workers, managers and customers, either from your current or previous employment. Maintaining good relationships nearly always pays off in the future, particularly when it comes to professional references.
  • When it’s mutually beneficial – networking with people who share the same goals and commit to getting the same results as you can be a powerful source of motivation!
  • People with a positive attitude – surround yourself with people who motivate you, provide you with encouragement and keep you on track.

Who you should not network with

In order to maintain a positive attitude and develop both personally and professionally, it is essential not to network or associate with the wrong kinds of people.

Negative people, those who are pessimistic or frequently make destructive comments or constant complainers. Negative feedback from negative people can affect your thinking and drain your energy.

People who display negative traits such as lack of self-discipline, fear of failure or are unsure of what success looks like for them. Those who never take any risks or fail to overcome challenges in life should also be avoided.

Tips for networking

Networking takes time, patience and practice. Don’t expect to stumble across amazing connections overnight!

Be genuine

Don’t come across as trying too hard, or attempt to flatter new connections. Show the best of who you are, be kind and proactively offer the kind of help you may hope to receive in the future. In return, you will build long-term relationships which will pay dividends in the future. Remember – sincerity is key!

Stay in touch

Who knows where your current contacts will be in the future? Stay in touch with your classmates, colleagues, professors and friends to make sure that you are the first to know about any exciting news that they may have in the future. Buying your professor a coffee on his birthday may be all it takes to keep you at the front of their minds when an exciting new opportunity presents itself!

Find someone who knows something better than you

Talk to smart people and be a good listener, not a talker. Pay attention to conversations and respond to questions appropriately. “When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.”- Dalai Lama XIV.

Attend networking events

Join industrial events for the chance to surround yourself with like-minded people who are also looking to reach out and make new connections. This is the perfect chance to get to know new people, their stories, their successes and the challenges they face.

Online networking

Social media platforms such a Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook are valuable tools when it comes to finding groups of like-minded professionals within your industry. As well as the chance to make one-on-one connections, the newsfeed section of these platforms can also be full of highly useful information!