Did you know that 80% of jobs are not advertised? Job opportunities are usually shared by word of mouth between people. A lot of entry-level jobs are advertised this way. It is called employee referrals, which means that employers ask current employees (who already work in the company), to ask their friends and family to apply for the new job opening. Therefore, knowing as many people as possible will help you to build your professional network and find a job.

What is a network?

A network is simply all the people you know. For example, Facebook is an online website that connects you to your friends and family; they are your social network.

How does networking work?

Networking is about creating connections with people. Getting to know your community, people with similar interests, and finding ways of helping each other.

How can a network help you to get job opportunities?

By connecting with other people, you can get advice and information about opportunities that could help you achieve your career goals. People in your network can connect you to people that they know who could help you or who might have job openings. Tell people you know that you are looking for a job, even if they don’t know how to help you, they might know someone who does.

Tips on how to build your network:

  • Prepare a networking pitch. Find out how.

  • Attend events hosted by employers such as the Career Indaba or Career Expo. You should also attend networking opportunities in your community such as sport and church events.

  • Youth programmes: Join a youth programme like the Activate! Programme.

  • Online: Build a professional online profile on social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and LinkedIn. Follow influential people and companies that you would like to work for in the future and join a local Facebook group that shares information about opportunities. This will keep you up to date on what's happening in the industry or company.

  • Attend a MeetUp and meet people that share the same interest as you. Learn more about Meetups.

  • Get involved in your community through community organisations, groups, the church, or the local newspaper.

  • Find people in your community with the same interests as you and help each other. Networking is about relationship-building and working together.

  • Job-shadow and get to know people in the industry.

You will meet and build connections with new people throughout your life, and these people are necessary to help you achieve your career goals. Networking is a great way to stay up to date and increase your knowledge about information and opportunities around you. It is important that you maintain the connections you made by staying in contact and building the relationships.

Information is power, so continue building your social and professional network to stay informed about bigger and better opportunities

Next Step: Find out how to network and prepare a networking pitch.