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The top networking tips for international students to increase your employability today

We noticed an interesting post on LinkedIn recently which highlighted an unusual way an international student got noticed by employers. The marketing director of an international company left her laptop on a bench in London by mistake while rushing to catch a train. Fearing she had lost it forever, she was surprised to receive an email a few hours later from an Italian student who had found her laptop. They met so he could return the case and she found that he had been working in bars but was looking for an entry-level role in the UK. The director wanted to thank the student, so put a post on LinkedIn asking her colleagues and contacts if anyone had an opening for this honest young man. At last count, there were almost 300 responses to her message from employers reaching out to her and she confirmed that she had helped pass his CV on to a number of companies and was coaching him for any interviews he was offered. While this is an unusual situation, it is useful to demonstrate that networking and employability opportunities can come in many forms and from unexpected sources. This got us thinking about how international students and graduates can gain networking skills and opportunities from everyday scenarios. We put together some tips that can be used throughout university and after.

Build your network

The idea of networking might sound daunting, but it can be as simple as meeting someone new in a lecture who can help you find a role after university. It’s not just your course mates who might one day be able to connect you to someone at their workplace, your lecturers are well placed to have industry contacts and be in touch with previous students who are now working at top companies across the country. Work on your people skills by trying to meet new contacts when you can. Try striking up a conversation with a stranger and if you feel a bit nervous, just remember it’s great practice and you can think of a few conversation points beforehand. As you get used to chatting to new people, your confidence will increase which will also help you when you start meeting employers. Being open to new experiences can really help, so try to do something outside of your comfort zone!

Think about your online presence

Face to face connections aren’t the only way to meet new people, you can network online too. Best practice is to eventually try to meet some of your online contacts in real life to solidify the connection. LinkedIn is a great platform to meet professionals and link to colleagues in your industry. Put your profile together including your unique selling points and start to connect with others.  A great starting point is people from your course, lecturers, friends and family. As your profile becomes more established, you can add to this. You can also send a message to connect to alumni from your university, this can be a good way to ask advice from those who have graduated already. Take a moment to think about your social media platforms too. What would a potential employer think if they saw your Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat images or posts? It’s worth considering what content you post and thinking about who can see it.

Reconnect with contacts

It’s also important to try and seek out opportunities yourself where you can.  Are you volunteering somewhere or have an internship? You can keep these connections up when you finish a short term role by staying in touch with people from these organisations. Not only does it show you’re interested in the people who work there, but it means they’ll keep you in mind when opportunities arise. Networking can be hard work, but the benefits are clear when it comes to employability. When attending events or careers events, if you get a business card, send them an email as soon as you can so they match your name to your face early on. Even if there isn’t a suitable opportunity at the moment, you’d be surprised at how many people remember a keen and polite enquiry.

For more careers tips and country-specific advice for international students and graduates, register with GradLink today for Free!

 

 

By Jen Garmston Published: June 18, 2019

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