Knowing how to network is one of the most important skills you can learn to support your future career growth. At Greystone College, we offer vocational training programs that help get students into the job market fast. Helping our students build networking skills is just one of the many ways we support them to find co-op and practicum positions or off-campus work while they study. So what exactly is networking, and how can it help your career and personal growth? Read on to find out!
What is Networking?
Networking is the process of building connections with people to exchange information, ideas, support, mentorship, and more. Networking often refers to intentional activities to meet new people who can help our career growth; but actually, we have many valuable networks in our lives already. Those networks include our friends, families, classmates, colleagues, and more. For career growth, it’s good to tap into the networks you already have, and to build new ones!
Where to Network.
There are lots of great places where you can start networking. On campus, you can build networks inside the classroom with teachers and fellow students; around the school you can meet administrators and students in other programs; and you can get connected at school career fairs, events, and activities.
Off campus, you can network at community events, job fairs, public talks, and even with neighbours who you meet in the elevator! Check out online resources like Meetup.com, or Eventbrite to find out what’s happening in your community.
You can also network online through social media channels. LinkedIn is designed for career networking, so we recommend students create a profile and connect with Greystone College on LinkedIn. You can also network on other platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and more – just don’t forget to review your online presence to make sure it’s professional! In-person meetings work best, but adding new connections on your social media channels after you meet is a good way to maintain the connection.
How to Network.
Many people are nervous about talking to strangers, but it’s easier than you think! Just introduce yourself and start with a simple question, like, “tell me about yourself? What brought you here today?” to get the conversation going. Be prepared to answer the same question, and then just let the conversation flow.
Don’t be afraid to tell people what you’re looking for, but also ask them what they’re looking for; in some cases, you might be able to help each other, but if not, you might come across someone who can and be able to connect them, or vice versa. Guess what, that’s what networking is all about!
Probably the two most important tips for becoming an expert networker are to be yourself, and to practise. Luckily, Greystone College offers lots of campus events that provide you with practise opportunities. Check out this recent networking event at Greystone College Vancouver:
Why is networking especially important for international students?
Networking is important for everyone, but international students have even more to gain from networking. That’s because they leave their familiar networks behind and start fresh in a new place. We all need supports in our lives, and networking is one way to start building them!
For students planning to work off campus or do a co-op, building a strong network might help you find a great job. Not to mention, networking is one more way to develop and practise your business communication skills in English.
One of our former graduates, Janser Bob, who completed the Diploma in Customer Service Program, had this to say: “I learned that networking would be the key to developing my professional career. Working from server to bartender I figured out the power of building a network and also getting Canadian experience. After the program I got all the necessary skills to develop my career and I could reach my main goal in Canada, that it is working as a Digital Marketing Manager in a Finance Company.”
So, when you come to Greystone College, be ready to start new conversations wherever you can, on and off campus; you never know where a conversation might lead!
How can networking help you find work?
Career experts often talk about something called the “hidden job market.” A large number of jobs don’t even get advertised; they get filled through personal referrals, recruiters, or people who walk in at the right time. The internet has made it a lot easier to post job ads, but about 30-40% of jobs are still found through the hidden job market, and networking is your best way to find them! Even when jobs are advertised, if someone can refer you, it will give you an advantage over other candidates.
Mariane Santana, a graduate of the Diploma Customer Service Co-op at Greystone College Toronto had great success in the hidden job market, saying, “during the co-op placement search, I often contacted my colleagues to ask for referrals. I secured a co-op placement thanks to a former colleague who knew a company that was actively looking for a professional with my set of skills and experience. Then, I applied for the position and successfully passed the interview process.”
Networking at Greystone College.
You’ve probably figured out that networking is a really helpful for career success. Luckily, Greystone College offers a lot of resources to help students build networking skills. Events like Career Fairs are a great place to meet potential employers for off-campus work, or for co-op or practicum positions. Greystone College’s Career Advising teams also have employer networks in each of our campus cities. When you reach out to an employer who is already familiar with hiring Greystone College students, the strength of our name can support you! And we host networking events, and industry speakers so students can learn from and connect with peers, and experts!
So what are you waiting for? Whether you’re already at Greystone College, or just thinking about coming, start practising your networking skills by getting connected with us through our social media, and keep an eye out for events at our schools!