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Networking for Career Development. Jonathan Wolff Careers and Employability Centre (CEC) e-mail: Key Text: Networking Pocketbook, Jon Warner, Management Pocketbooks. Details Available at:

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Networking for Career Development

Jonathan Wolff

Careers and Employability Centre (CEC)


Key Text:

Networking Pocketbook, Jon Warner,

Management Pocketbooks.

Details Available at:

(type “Networking” into “Book Search” box)

Careers and Employability Centre



  • The benefits of career networking
  • Networking definitions
  • Preparing to raise your profile
  • – The ‘Elevator Pitch’
  • – The ’30 second CV’
  • How to identify possible contacts
  • – Mind Mapping exercise
  • – Making use of professional bodies
  • Four networking types
  • – Practical exercise in building relationships with contacts
  • Using the ‘Information Interviewing’ approach
  • Careers Centre Networking Resources


  • Go round the group finding one person to fill each category in the grid:
  • Start each new meeting by giving:
  • - your first name
  • - the title of the course you are studying
  • After you have introduced yourselves you can only ask each other
  • THREE questions before you both move on to someone else
  • Your questions will mainly be about items in the grid but there are no
  • limitations as to what you can ask
  • Each person can only appear on your grid ONCE
  • You cannot include yourself in the grid
  • If you are successful in finding someone to fill a box:
  • - write down their first name
  • - get them to sign their initials in the box
  • - Put brief details (e.g. the instrument they play, the languages they
  • speak, the car they own)
  • The first person to collect a name in ALL NINE boxes wins the prize
  • - If no-one completes all nine boxes inside ten minutes then the
  • person/people with the most names collected will win a prize.


  • It is the most effective way of getting realistic information &
  • advice about career opportunities and jobs
  • It can lead to inspiration, helping you to take appropriate
  • steps towards the career goal that you know is right for you
  • It can enable you to raise your profile amongst the
  • community you want to join
  • 70 – 80 % of all jobs are found through networking
    • - It may be the ONLY way of finding work in jobs where graduate training schemes are uncommon and/or entry into work is very competitive e.g.:
    • - Art & design, sport, media, charitable sector, environmental careers

Networking definitions (Jon Warner)

– these all focus on building relationships

  • “A power that comes from a spirit of giving and
  • sharing”
  • “An organised way of creating links from people we know
  • to people they know for a specific purpose”
  • “Giving, contributing to and supporting others without
  • keeping score”
  • “Fostering self-help and the exchange of information”
  • “Ensuring the right to ask a favour without hooks”

Knowing what you want and what you have to offer

  • You should focus on building relationships
  • BUT
  • So that contacts can help you, you need to be

able to explain briefly and clearly:

    • Who you are and what you’ve done – ‘30 second CV’
    • What help you are looking for at this stage – ‘elevator pitch’
    • - NOTE: In the early stages of networking we’d recommend asking for
    • ‘help and advice’. Once you are clear about what you want to do and
    • have become known to your network / contacts, you can start asking
    • about work experience and job opportunities.

Exercise – Selling Yourself, Stage 1:

Preparing a 30 second CV / Elevator pitch

  • Think of 3 Unique Selling Points (USPs) which describe you and
  • put them into a short paragraph that you could learn and reel off naturally
  • when asked about yourself, e.g.:
  • (1) “I’m a first year Sports Science student at Loughborough University
  • with
  • (2) a level 1 football coaching qualification
  • and
  • (3) experience of working at kids summer sport camps, coaching a variety
  • of sports”
  • NOW add a sentence which explains what you are looking for at this
  • stage / event (e.g. at the Springboard Fair), e.g.
  • “I’m investigating a career in Sport development and I’m looking for advice
  • on how I can find out more about what this career involves and what I need
  • to add to my CV if I want to get into it”
  • You have five minutes to put these statements together

Exercise – Selling Yourself, Stage 2:

Presenting yourself to others

  • Over the next TEN MINUTES move round the room, and practise delivering your 30 second CV/Elevator pitch to as many individuals as you can.
  • In each meeting:
    • Briefly introduce yourselves
    • Make sure you BOTH get a chance to deliver your statements
    • Listen to what your partner is saying – you’ll need to use this information to pick partners for other exercises, later in this workshop
    • In your first couple of meetings you’ll probably need to use your script. By the time you get to your last meeting you should be able to deliver your statements without looking at your notes – try to make your delivery relaxed and natural.


  • To identify existing contacts and develop new ones, think
  • of all the networks you have belonged to:
    • Your extended family
    • The schools, colleges, universities you have attended
    • Clubs, societies, organisations you have been a member of
    • Places that you have worked
    • Your partner’s or children's networks of friends
    • Other networks?
  • All the above could giveaccess to many contacts
    • Some will have formal networks
    • All individual contacts will have many contacts of their own


  • Dynamic method of recording information & ideas
    • Mirrors the brain’s processes
  • Main themes radiate from central image as branches
    • Branches divide into connected structure of sub-branches
    • New ideas can be added in any direction
  • Colour & visual images used to aid memory & recall
  • Can compress large number of ideas into one page
  • Useful for brainstorming lists of contacts
  • Also very useful for planning documents


  • If you know someone else in the room who is investigating
  • similar opportunities - pair up with them. If you don’t you’ll
  • need to work on your own
  • Think (together, if working in pairs) of at least two career
  • areas you want to research
  • Produce a mind-map (together if possible) like the example
  • in 10 minutes:
    • It will be rough, without colours or diagrams
    • Note: people working outside your area of interest can have many
    • contacts (e.g. the hairdresser in the example mind map)
    • Aim is to get 25 contacts/organisations EACH to follow up
    • Prize to 1st group of two with 50 contacts between them OR
    • individual with 25 contacts!
  • In next few weeks – develop proper contacts mind map(s)
finding contacts through professional bodies associations
FINDING CONTACTS THROUGH Professional Bodies & Associations
  • There are many organisations with established networks

- They may offer careers information and advice

- By becoming a member you could get access to conferences & events

- They may have directories/databases of member organisations

  • Get to know the organisations in YOUR field through

- Recommendations and lists from your careers adviser

- Prospects occupational profiles – “Contacts & Resources” sections

- CEC web site “Classified Sites” section

(look at the right-hand menu list for links to websites for researching particular careers areas - many of the links here contain more than just vacancy information)


CONTACT DATABASE EXAMPLE : BPS, Directory of Chartered Psychologists:


Clicking on an entry will bring up information on the Psychologist’s areas of work and contact details

making contact with alumni graduates of your institution
MAKING CONTACT WITH ALUMNI(graduates of your institution)
  • Alumni who are in careers that interest you are the best possible contacts

- They’re more likely to want to help than someone you’ve no link with

- They understand where you are coming from

  • The CEC has a database of Loughborough alumni contacts


- They have all said they are willing to give advice and information

- Some will offer work-shadowing &/or experience

- They cover most fields of work

- To find out how system works, go to:

  • Your department/lecturers may also have alumni contacts
  • You might know graduates from the years above you on your course

ii. Ask member of careers staff for contact details

iii. E-mail the contact – best first step is to arrange telephone discussion



1. Loner

  • Likes to do most things by him/herself
  • Doesn’t want to bother or worry other people
  • Feels his/her knowledge and skills are often superior to
  • most people
  • Only asks for help as a last resort (and when it may be
  • too late
  • Networking consequences for people of this type:
    • - Unable to benefit from Networking at all!


2. Socialiser

  • Tries to make a friend of everyone she/he meets
  • Tends to know people’s names/faces but not what they do
  • Is not normally systematic or ordered about follow-up –
  • contact is random
  • May not listen too deeply and is quick to move on
  • Networking consequences for people of this type:
    • - Knows little of substance about personal skills and
    • resources so is Unable to share skills
  • - Networking is random, following little or no formal contact system


3. User

  • Is likely to collect business cards without really connecting
  • with people
  • They take a ‘hard sell’ approach on the first encounter
  • Talks and focuses on own agenda rather than to gather
  • information
  • Has superficial interactions
  • Keeps score when giving favours
  • Networking consequences for people of this type:
    • - Creates little benefit for themselves or others
  • - Creates a bad impression – gives networking a bad name!


4. Builder

  • Has a giving disposition or abundance mentality
  • Is generally happy to ask others for help or guidance
  • Listens and learns about people carefully
  • Is regularly on the look-out for useful information from
  • which others can also benefit
  • Has a well ordered and organised networking system
  • Networking consequences for people of this type:
    • - Takes a long-term perspective on relationships with others; thinks
    • more about what he/she can give or offer than about the return
  • - Is someone whom others really want to network with!


  • These are chats with people who do work that interests
  • you – arrange them BEFORE you start your job search
  • They will help you to:
  • Gather information about what careers involve
  • Learn what kinds of opportunities exist in areas of interest
  • Search jobs much more effectively
  • Find out vital information to move your career forward
  • Develop contacts with key people
  • Build confidence and improve your interview skills
  • Discover hidden jobs – many jobs are found this way


  • Begin with people you know – they are most likely to want to help
  • If your direct contacts can’t help directly but know someone who could:
  • - ask if they could phone ahead and introduce you
  • People are more likely take calls if they are prepared for one and more
  • likely to agree to a chat if they know why you’d like to see them.
  • SO:
  • Write or email in advance, explaining:
  • - how you heard about them
  • - what help/advice you are looking for - be brief ; your 30 second CV and
  • appropriate elevator pitch is enough
  • - attach your CV if you have one
  • Follow up with a call and try to arrange a short meeting
  • Prepare questions before the meeting
  • ALWAYS e-mail/write to contacts to thank them afterwards
  • Use this approach with alumni mentor database contacts

Information Interviews – Types of Questions

  • Can you describe your typical day/week?
  • What kinds of problems do you deal with ?
  • What do you find most/least satisfying about your work ?
  • Where are opportunities advertised ?
  • Is there a typical career pattern for new professionals ?
  • Which parts of this field are expanding and likely to offer opportunities
  • in the future ?
  • What are the typical entry-level jobs ?
  • What are the toughest challenges the profession is facing ?
  • Could you look over my work and offer suggestions ?
  • Can you suggest anyone I might be able to talk to ?
  • Are there opportunities for work shadowing or work-Experience?
  • These are just suggestions - think up your own questions
interviewing contacts a practical exercise 10 15 minutes
INTERVIEWING CONTACTS A practical exercise – 10-15 minutes
  • Find a partner – preferably someone you’ve never spoken to before
  • Start by chatting for a couple of minutes so that each of you can identify an activity the other person has been involved with e.g.:

- A job they have done

- A committee role they have held

- A strong interest that they have practised

- A club they’ve been involved with for some time

  • Take it in turns to ask detailed questions about this activity e.g.:

- How did they get started?

    • What are the aspects of doing it that they enjoy most?
    • Are there any negative aspects?
    • What tips would they give to anyone thinking of taking up this activity?
  • Talk to each other about your career plans - try to find ways you might be able to help each other, e.g.:

- Do you have any contacts the other person might find useful?

- Could you help them out with any of their activities?

- Do you have a skill that could be useful to them?



CEC leaflet: “Effective Career Networking”

  • Explains the mechanics of:
    • 1. How networking works
    • 2. How to create a list of contacts
    • 3. How to make effective use of those contacts
  • Leaflet has links to a range of networking resources
    • - These all support the process of using Information Interviews
Materials available from our networking resources web page:
  • Making Use of Contacts- a questionnaire to help you think how you use contacts already.
  • Mind Mapping- information on a technique useful for brainstorming lists of contacts.
  • Outcomes of Networking- a detailed, categorised list of all the things that contacts can do for you in helping you to plan your career.
  • Record of Key Networking Objectives- a sheet for planning what you want to get out of your networking campaign.
  • Networking Card-Sort - a practical exercise to help you set your networking priorities.
  • Networking Interviews Prompt Sheet- ideas for questions to ask your contacts.
  • Networking Preparation Question Sheet- for recording your questions, prior to each meeting with a contact.
  • Networking Contacts Sheet- a sheet for recording the details of your meetings with contacts and the further action that needs to be taken.


  • The ‘Arts Diary’ provides an excellent, practical guide to
  • networking in creative careers whilst listing all the
  • national annual events to look out for. Use it
  • electronically to click on links to pages about events:


  • Avoid e-mailing people until you know them or have an introduction
  • - It’s junk mail!
  • Start networking with people you know – it’s easier!
  • Sit next to strangers at events - not people you know
  • Be ready to network at all times - keep your 30 second CV and an
  • appropriate elevator pitch in your head
  • Build two-way relationships - be helpful to others even if there is no
  • immediate or direct benefit to you
  • Use contacts to find contacts + know other sources
  • Use an Information Interview strategy as your main approach to using
  • contacts formally
  • In the early stages of networking, ask for “help and advice” NOT for
  • work placements and jobs – think RESEARCH not JOB SEARCH
  • Be persistent in following up and following through
  • Stay in touch regularly and systematically
  • ALWAYS e-mail or write to thank contacts for help
  • Become a blip on everyone’s radar!