Networking - a five step guide

Why network?

70% of jobs are not advertised. Nearly 80% of US positions are secured through networking. You can sit and wait for a job offer, or use your networking skills to increase your chances of success.

You can use networks to get information, advice, additional contacts, and feedback. All of these will help you with your search for work experience or jobs.

Step 1: Define yourself and what you’re looking for

Start by putting together a short paragraph of who you are and what you are looking for. You will feel more confident and give a positive impression if you prepare in advance.

For example:

Hello Lorna.  I am a student in your Behavioural Neurology class and have become fascinated by this area. I am considering taking this subject as my Honours option and I am particularly interested in the area of ……….. I would love the opportunity to gain more experience in this area of research and wondered if you had any ideas about people or institutions I could contact who may have openings. 

Read further examples

  • The objective is to be brief and to the point while at all times polite.
  • Remember this is professional networking – make sure your emails and messages are grammatically correct and not overly familiar.
  • Don’t ask for a job or work experience straightaway  this can put people off.
  • Prepare and practise your introductory speech.
  • Have a clear goal in mind of what you are looking for.

Step 2: Define your personal network

You already have an immediate network – family members, friends (don't forget parents' friends and friends' parents), fellow students, your lecturers and tutors, past employers, and work colleagues.

Step 3: Start networking

Start in your personal network and build up your confidence in your networking skills. Try networking around St Andrews.

For example:

  • Visit a Careers Adviser - they may have valuable contacts.
  • Ask a friend to ask their lawyer mum if she would speak to you about the best way to get into law.
  • Ask a PhD student if there are any opportunities to shadow them in their lab.

Step 4: Expand your network

Go outside of the University and make career connections with people outside your immediate environment:

  • Employers – introduce yourself to employers at career fairs and employer events.  Some events are held outside St Andrews, but attending can be worth the effort for the contacts you might make.
  • Society and School Guest Speakers – societies such as GIG and MNG host events which feature prominent people from the world of business. These events often include a networking opportunity.
  • Alumni - you have a large St Andrews community worldwide who are willing to help students succeed. Get started with LinkedIn and Saint Connect for more information on how to make contact with alumni.
  • Social Media – look at social media for job hunting for inspiration on how to increase your networks using the internet.

Step 5: Keep in touch and keep track

  • Always follow up any contact with a thank-you note or email.
  • Keep in touch.  If a recommendation from someone in your network proves useful, then let your original contact know.
  • Keep contacts updated with your news, such as letting contacts know once you graduate.
  • Keep track of names, emails, dates, and any key pieces of information or advice that may be useful later. For example, you are frequently asked in an application form why you are interested in a specific role. You could include “after shadowing the vice chairperson of a leading risk analysis company, I was able to gain a better understanding of the ………”. It is important to keep the relationships alive, so if one of your contacts learns about a good opportunity, they let you know about it.