Careers Advice

Networking 101 - Careers Fair Season

“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”... ScotGrad's Shelley Morgan offers some useful tips about networking.

Published: 03/10/2018

Networks, networks, networks. “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. You’ll never get anywhere if you don’t know the right people...

I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted by just the thought of all these statements. The truth is, networks are important, there’s no getting away from that, but for many of us, networking doesn’t come easily. I remember it well, heart pounding, fidgeting with the flyers I’d been given, not making eye contact – careers fairs are intimidating places.

One of the best pieces of advice I was ever given was, “there’s no ice to break”. Revolutionary, huh. Networking is bound to make you nervous, especially in a professional environment with lots of seemingly frightening managing directors, heads of departments, or worse… recruitment managers!

But we’re not scary people, I promise.

You have some incredible opportunities ahead of you to attend recruitment events. ScotGrad attends recruitment events around the country in two key periods… right now – October, and February. This is when universities are focusing exclusively on helping you to find a job or opportunity for after graduation.  

It’s also when you’ll find out that ScotGrad has a very different offer to large graduate recruiters.

At networking opportunities like fairs, there are a few ways you can make yourself stand out from the hoards of students wandering around the event with you:

  1. Introduce yourself – “hello I’m Shelley, nice to meet you” – I can’t tell you what a refreshing approach this is! Seeing a bunch of nameless individuals taking flyers or worse, freebies (!) without speaking to me makes me think I should have just sent the merchandise so let me know who you are and have a conversation with me
  2. Dress for the occasion – I know to you it might be the only hour you’ve got from your busy schedule, but for recruiters, it’s a prime time to scope out potential candidates (ScotGrad doesn’t head hunt at these events, but other recruiters do, so put your best foot forward). I don’t mean get suited and booted here, but not wearing your uggs and pyjamas is a start (yes this is a true story)
  3. Avoid the pack mentality – this is a tricky one for a lot of students. I know you’re nervous, and in honesty it’s easier for me to tell you about ScotGrad when you’re in a crowd, but I’ve got no chance of remembering you if you’re in a pack
  4. Listen – if you’ve asked a question, listen to the answer and respond accordingly
  5. Ask a relevant question – “what can you do for me?” doesn’t count… the most impressive questions are well thought through, “what kinds of placements are available for English Language graduates?”, “what training opportunities do you offer?”, “what are your entry requirements?”

Remember that networking at recruitment events isn’t your only opportunity. Connect with your social network (your best friend’s mum might be working in the job you’re aiming for!), practise using LinkedIn by connecting with members of the society or sports team you belong to, talk to your classmates and tutors, or ask a question during an employer presentation. These are all great ways to build your networking confidence.

Once you’ve taken the first steps, there’s plenty more to learn, but you’re on your way. On a ScotGrad placement, there are lots of opportunities to network, attending training, connecting with other ScotGrads, networking with colleagues and clients, the list goes on. Make the most of the opportunities you have now to make a lasting impression at the upcoming fairs.

For a full list of events where you can chat to a member of the ScotGrad team, view our careers fairs page.