Free handbook helps you explore your network
Jobs, internships, mentors, thesis topics or just good advice – you can use your network as a tool to find all sorts of things. Read how to do so in The Networking Journey, a manual published by Aarhus University’s alumni network.
Finding a relevant student job, a good work experience placement or your first permanent job can be a tiresome process. However, help is at hand if you are feeling completely lost.
Via Aarhus University’s alumni network both new and former students can get hold of The Networking Journey, a free manual that teaches you how to build up new relations and develop your network in a systematic and targeted way. In other words – it teaches you to network.
And a network can actually be a strong tool when you are looking for a period of practical training or a student job, according to networking expert Charlotte Junge, who is both co-author of the book and an alumna – i.e. a former Aarhus University student.
“The network itself doesn’t provide jobs, but when you have a good network, you can use it to get relevant contacts and new knowledge. In this way, you can quickly dig up job opportunities that haven’t been advertised yet and come out and visit the companies that can possibly offer a job or something like that,” she says.
Charlotte Junge believes that students should start networking much earlier and more professionally than they do now.
“Students are super cool at using the social media and good at networking with each other, but they often fail to network outside of their group – out in the business sector and the network’s network. It’s often there that knowledge about jobs or internships is available,” says the former Aarhus University student.
Give and take
The manual provides some concrete advice about how to set off on the networking journey. For example, you can read about how to organise a networking meeting with a contact, and what you should be aware of when you are sitting face to face with the person concerned.
However, the first step on the journey is understanding the basic network mindset – networking is about both give and take.
“It’s important to have this approach so you don’t come across as only going out on the network when you need something. It’s not very becoming if you only come to get something and then leave,” says Charlotte Junge.
According to the networking expert, it is a good idea to have a reputation in your network as someone who is happy to spend ten minutes giving good advice or half an hour discussing a project. And if you know someone in the business community who needs a trainee, for example, you can help them find the right candidate.
“If you’re open to other people, help them with knowledge and get contacts for them, they’ll do the same for you. Not because it has to be a super scheming ‘I owe you’ situation, but simply because we can help each other. And it could be that we mention it to others after a certain time,” she says.
The way to achieving your goal
The Networking Journey also encourages you as a keen networking student to define a specific goal for what you would like to find via the network – for example a student job, a mentor or knowledge about your thesis. You should keep in mind that your network is only the way to achieving your goal, according to Charlotte Junge.
“This is a very important point. You mustn’t think that networking means you can just go out and get a job. But you can get knowledge and contacts that pave the way towards finding job options, and then you can apply for them, of course, the same way as everything else,” she says.
When you search for a person in the network, it is important to clearly state what you need, and to communicate briefly and concisely.
“If you’re looking for an internship, say that to your contact person and ask whether he or she can help with information and contacts so you can target your search,” says Charlotte Junge.
Requires courage and practice
But what if the networking journey is too over the top? Charlotte Junge admits that it requires courage to ask others for help – especially from people you don’t know. However, as long as you are polite, it is not as daunting as you might think.
“Most of us would love to help because that’s what being a person is all about. Keep in mind how you’d react yourself if you were invited to a network meeting or asked for good advice,” says the networking expert.
“When I ask you for help, I’m also acknowledging that you mean something in my world and that you have a knowledge that is important. And we all like to be acknowledged,” she continues.
If you find it hard to break out of your comfort zone, Charlotte Junge’s best advice is to begin by practising on someone you feel a bit more comfortable with. This could be the father of one of your friends, for example, who works in a branch you are interested in. Alternatively, you could choose to take the plunge with both feet.
“I once counselled an architecture student who told me she would like to try to get hold of the most highly reputed professor at the School of Architecture because, as she put it: ‘If I can get a network meeting with him, I can get one with everyone.’ She got the meeting, and dared to do so from then on,” says Charlotte Junge with a grin.
Facts: How to get a copy of The Networking Journey
Join up as a member of Aarhus University’s alumni network – at gerda.au.dk. It is free and only requires that you are an Aarhus University student or alumnus/alumna. You can subsequently log in and download the manual free of charge.
Facts: Use the alumni network
With the alumni network’s search tool, you can find former and present students in both your field of study and others. You can search for a mentor, someone to act as a sounding board, or just good advice, and you can address your questions to Charlotte Junge and other alumni. You can also check the activity calendar and read about the many interesting events organised by Aarhus University’s alumni network.
See more at Gerda.