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Blog: Why Networking *Actually* Matters for Young People: Your Guide to Getting Started

Why Networking *Actually* Matters for Young People
Your Guide to Getting Started

Group of young people sitting on steps

You know the old saying “It’s not what you know, but who you know”? When we’re talking about networking, it is absolutely true. We know some people start life with great networks, but for many of us – it’s something we have to actively build up over time – and build our own relationships. 


Why Networking Matters

While it might seem scary (especially when you’re just starting out!) – building a strong network early is important for many reasons:

  1. 1. Opportunities: A lot of the time, we’re presented with opportunities because someone knows of us, knows our skills, or knows we were looking! How do they know that? Because we’ve got them in our network.
  2. 2. Mentorship: We talk a lot about finding good mentors, and one way of doing that is by meeting them through your network!
  3. 3. Knowledge Sharing: Networking allows you to learn from others’ experiences and stay updated on industry trends and best practices, something that can be incredibly important in your future career.


How to Start Networking?

1. Take advantage of your existing network

Start with people you already know:

  • • Family and Friends: They can introduce you to professionals in your field of interest.
  • • Teachers and Professors: They often have industry connections and can provide valuable introductions.
  • • Classmates and Alumni: Join study groups, clubs, and organisations to meet like-minded students (current and past!).


2. Create a Professional Online Presence

Your online presence is often the first impression you make:

  • • LinkedIn Profile: Set up a LinkedIn profile (and if you don’t already have one, we’ve got a handy guide to getting started right here).
  • • Social Media: Make sure your social media profiles show you in a positive light – and if need be, you might want to create separate professional accounts, or have your personal account on private.


3. Join Organisations and Clubs

Participate in clubs and organisations related to your field of interest:

  • • Academic Clubs: Join clubs that focus on your major or interests (e.g. Your University Engineers Club)
  • • Professional Organisations: Many professional bodies have chapters for young people – and joining these can provide networking events and resources (e.g The Young Western Suburbs Business Association is the Young People’s chapter of the WSBA).
  • • Extracurricular Activities: Sports teams, debate clubs, and other extracurricular activities also offer networking opportunities – PSA we’ve found some of our best professional connections through things like this!


4. Attend Networking Events

Youv’e got a profile, you’ve joined some clubs – now what? It’s time to get out there even more! Look for events where you can meet professionals and peers:

  • • Career Fairs: Attend university or community career fairs to meet recruiters and industry professionals.
  • • Workshops and Seminars: Participate in events related to your field of interest. These often include networking sessions after the main event.
  • • Conferences: Attend industry conferences (PS – most of them offer Student discounts!).
  • • Networking Events: A lot of venues, industries and businesses often have networking nights with the sole purpose of meeting other people. While these can be daunting, they’re a great way to be in a room of like-minded people finding new connections!


How to Be a Good Networker

1. Be Genuine and Authentic

Never be fake.

  • • Be Yourself: Don’t try to be someone you’re not. Authenticity is key in building genuine connections.
  • • Show Interest: Ask questions and show genuine interest in others’ experiences and advice (don’t ever underestimate the power of active listening!).


2. Follow Up

Maintain the connections you make.

  • • Thank You Notes: Send thank-you notes or messages after meeting someone or after an informational interview – it’s never good to ghost someone!
  • • Stay in Touch: Keep in contact periodically with your network. Share updates about your progress and ask how they are doing.


3. Give Before You Take

Networking is a two-way street – and doing things for others will (almost) always come back around eventually.

  • • Offer Help: If you can assist someone, do so. This could be through sharing information, providing support, or connecting them with others.
  • • Be Grateful: Always express gratitude for any help or advice you receive.


Common Networking Mistakes to Avoid

It’s important to remember that networking is all about building relationships – you’re not just there to get a new connection, or get a job (even if it feels like that might be the end goal!). Before you attend your next networking event, here’s a few things to keep in mind of what not to do.

  • • Being Too Pushy: Don’t be overly aggressive in seeking help or favors. Build relationships gradually.
  • • Neglecting to Prepare: Research the people and companies you’ll be meeting. Have thoughtful questions ready and you’ll find the conversations will flow much better (just don’t be over-prepared!).
  • • Failing to Follow Up: Networking doesn’t end with the first meeting. Consistent follow-up is always an important part of building a relationship.


Building a network takes time, but ask any professional and they’ll often tell you that they wouldn’t be where they are without their own. 

Good luck!