People aren't born networkers although they are occasionally born into a network. It is not a dark art, it is not something that only certain people can do and it is something that will be important for the whole of your career.
The benefits of growing and using your network will reward you with jobs, great experiences and often friends for life, the best things about networking is that anyone can do it.
We have outlined some tips for networking and the focus is on getting your first job in the creative industries, at different stages of your career you will network for different reasons but at all stages the majority of principles outlined here will apply.
First up, understand the limits of your existing network. Over 2.5 million people in the UK work in our creative economy, chances is are you'll know.
If you don't, you will definitely know someone who knows someone. But you won't find out unless you ask them. Try a Facebook status update, talk to parents friends, ask your teachers or tutors, you might end up getting in touch with your friend from primary school who's godfather works in Holland at a branding company. Sounds ridiculous, but it's true.
Getting your first or first few contacts within the creative industries is a great feeling but it's hard to know what to say or do. Try a simple introduction email or phone call, explain how you know about them and that you are aiming to get into the creative industries, ask for a bit of their time to chat about it.
It's time to multiply and from here on in it's a case of copy and paste when it comes to meeting people. Make sure that when you are in a room of people, they know who you are and what you want. When talking to someone, always remember to ask if anyone knows someone who they could introduce you to. Most will say no, but some will say yes and that could be your future employer.
Increasing your chances
Hopefully the above helps you on your way to building your network, remember that if you are reading this right now thinking you know absolutely nobody, you can sign up to an event or connect online to start your network off.
If you want to increase your chances of networking leading to a job, the key is to give yourself the greatest chance of meeting potential employers and making sure they know that you are looking for a job.
Get yourself along to events, not just the FutureRising ones, there are thousands of events every year, find out on twitter, search Eventbrite, a company may even reveal which pub it goes to for a drink on a Thursday night.
Networking is a numbers game. The more people you meet, the more likely you'll meet someone who can help you. You can also do some people favours to by introducing them to people in your network. Maybe the potential employer you are talking to would appreciate connecting with your course leader at uni?
Preparation = Confidence
It takes a lot to walk up to someone and just say hello. Or to stop agonising over the wording of an email and just send it. Your preparation could include goggling people you know are going to an event or sending a test email to friends. The one consistent part of networking is that it's never easy but it gets easier.
If you can throw yourself into the deep end, back it up with your knowledge and skills then in no time at all, people will be coming up to you, saying hello and finding out who you know.