Between courses, partials, internship research, first job or student jobs or work- study , the study period is really not easy. In addition to this already busy schedule, building your professional network is becoming more and more essential and important. And for good reason: opportunity, visibility, human encounters, collaborations… so many advantages that can be brought by effective networking. You like the idea, but you have no idea where to start, how to enter one network or another, or how to approach a professional who inspires you. Do not panic: take a pencil and a paper: after this article, you will be the king/queen of networking.
Cathy Nhim, Students & Universities Success Manager at My Job Glasses , the web platform that allows students from schools and universities to make appointments with business professionals or mentors. Cathy delivers several training courses to teach students the art of networking and to develop their professional network. Since January 1, 2021, My Job Glasses has been open to 15-30 year olds, allowing high school students, students and recent graduates to easily meet professionals.
Daniel Duchemann, Marketing Project Manager in a consulting company . Daniel understood very young the importance of networking as part of his studies in management school. He redoubled his efforts to build this network and create the professional opportunities he dreamed of. He will explain to us what his approach was.Take your first steps in networking
Easy or difficult to create your professional network?
Today, many media exist to meet professionals: platforms such as LinkedIn , My Job Glasses, events (physical or digital) or school network forums , or Alumni networks . While it may seem like a big, blurry world that is difficult to access, the only barrier for every student is actually psychological. As Cathy reminds us: “ You have to remember that this is an informal exchange with a professional. So there’s no point putting pressure on yourself: it’s not a job interview or a decisive discussion for your professional future!
The student click to start creating your network
To get started, Cathy speaks of a “click”: “ Students start building their network, especially when looking for an internship. » It is finally only at the time of professional integration that most students realize the usefulness of this network , exactly as in the case of Daniel: « I realized that I could find an internship opportunity by knocking on the next door, thanks to my network. »
Cathy nevertheless advises not to wait for this late trigger and to be proactive to benefit from all the opportunities that the network can bring. Since indeed, it is well after having engaged some levers that the positive effects arrive. The main thing is to do it early , to be patient and persevering in order to be able to enjoy the fruits of the network at the best time.
Opportunities through networking
One of the biggest advantages that networking can bring, according to Cathy, is to reach “the hidden job market” , that is to say this part where many offers are often very interesting, but reserved for hand-picked recommendations and profiles. Also, networking being above all a question of meeting, it gives the opportunity to meet many people who can help you see more clearly in your professional project. ” It’s also by talking to these same people about their professions, backgrounds or experiences that you will break down your prejudices “, explains Cathy. If you have clear and specific objectives for the sector or position you are targeting,networking with the objective of exchanging with the right people to better understand the profession and its challenges can make your job much easier.
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Getting started and carrying on a conversation
It should be clear by now: networking is important. But how do you get into a conversation and break the ice?
To initiate a conversation with a professional, Daniel explains his technique: “ I contacted professionals with a research approach, with prepared questions and after studying their profiles , the interview was immediately qualitative. And if the idea comes to you to seem “opportunistic” with this approach, keep in mind that this exchange is just as constructive for you as for the professional: ” it is also for them the opportunity to meet the future generation entering the job market“recalls Cathy. It is also an opportunity for the professional to take a step back from his own career, a moment that is often rewarding and pleasant, especially when your interlocutor feels appreciated and listened to, as Daniel explains ” The expert is always happy to talk about him. So don’t feel like you’re coming to “ask” something : it’s above all an informal moment with a professional, which can lead to a career opportunity if it arises.
Enrich and maintain each exchange
Sometimes it can be difficult for the more shy to feel comfortable during an exchange. Cathy recommends the exercise of the presentation pitch to arrive prepared and grounded at each meeting : “ The idea is to be able to introduce yourself quickly with a few keywords and the main information about you. The more your pitch resembles you, the more the ensuing exchange will seem natural to you. It will allow you to make a difference while having the advantage of being infinitely duplicable!
If the pitch seems to you to be unnatural to put in place, bet on your files – like those of the baccalaureate -, simple to carry out they can be a support on which you rest during the conversation: no professional. eye a student interested and prepared for this kind of exchange. Also feel free to take notes : you can then take them quietly a little later, they could be useful to you in your choice of internship or career! Daniel also reminds us “ To send a message after each interview thanking the person for their time and advice. » A simple and polite element that also allows you to keep track and a means of follow-up in your professional meetings.
Finally, to never lose contact with each person you meet, remember to create your directory with their contacts and invite them to platforms like LinkedIn .
Networker with his close, school and business network
You are motivated and ready to meet inspiring professionals to build your network. But a new question arises: by which door to enter?
First, Cathy reminds us that there is a close network: “ Your family, your friends, your teachers are the first people who can quickly connect you with professionals in their respective networks. Also, don’t forget that they are often also the people who know you best and who will be most likely to put you in touch with the right people.
Daniel also explains the relevance of the school network in this first step. Alumni, associations, junior companies are the best vectors to meet other students and thus begin to compose your own network also thanks to that of others. According to Daniel, the alumni network is a real gold mine providing advice and feedback: ” The alumni gave me a lot of advice for networking and even opened doors to companies and professionals. projects.School is the ideal time to start building your network, halfway between learning and concrete application, teachers and alumni are also there to guide you and share their own experiences with you.
Internship periods are also the most conducive to getting to the heart of the matter. Daniel explains his experience: “ In each company, I made appointments with the different people whose jobs interested me to learn more about them, the missions and their backgrounds. As inspiring as it is instructive, it’s an excellent way to create ties with your work colleagues, enrich your professional project and go further in your business experience.