Words by Saaniya Kadam.
I learnt from Elinor Moshe – leader in the construction industry – that you lose nothing while networking but you only gain confidence, communication skills and a network that will be your pass to your career goals.
There is a glimmer of light amidst the pandemic gloom. The potential for networking during the pandemic has drastically increased.
Virtual networking can feel scary but it’s important to remember that it's new to everyone at the moment. How about we face our fears and give it a try!
Attending events as an international student, I found it extremely intimidating to enter a room with faces I had never seen or spoken to before. In that moment I felt self-conscious and nervous, but that’s only human. I gave myself a pep talk and recalled all my abilities and my attributes. That made me confident. I walked into that room and owned it. I enjoyed every minute of it. I knew my aim and I built my communication strategies around it.
When the pandemic hit, I started connecting on social media with the network I had made through these events.
Networking through the virtual world is as important as networking in-person. Here are a few actions that international students can start taking right away!
Contact professionals in your industry
Reach out to people who are working in the area you’re studying. These connections do not need to be with the intention of finding a job. It’s about strengthening goodwill. Ask how they’re faring in the pandemic and let them know you would like to be connected or discuss their current work.
Reconnect with your existing network
Take a brief moment from your routine and send a short note to former colleagues or peers. Let them know they crossed your mind or share some articles and have a discussion. Always remember networking works both ways.
Build your personal branding on LinkedIn
If you don’t have an account, make one right away! LinkedIn is the mecca of contacts. If you haven’t updated your LinkedIn profile, now’s a good time to do it. Your network and contacts will be able to learn more about you and your professional and academic journey.
Be visible. You have to make your presence felt. Ask your contacts to introduce you to their network, join groups of your interests, comment on and ‘like’ posts. Your activity on LinkedIn will help you be easily spotted by HR teams and recruiters.
Webinars are a new way of learning and networking.
Find webinars that hone your knowledge and skills. It’s important to not only broaden your knowledge about your industry but to have an understanding of parallel industries. This will help you connect with likeminded people as well as people who could be sounding boards for your plans.
You can connect with industry leaders by sending them a brief email of your take on the webinar afterwards.
Get involved in volunteer work
This is definitely the best way to grow your network. Through volunteering, I have developed a broad network not only from my industry but also from other sectors.
While volunteering you gain an understanding of local work cultures and ethics. This can make your resume stand out. Through volunteer programs you also learn to work in a professional and practical work structure.
There are many volunteering opportunities that can be completed from home. Check out Study Melbourne’s volunteer page for how to get started.