Fatima Malik, one of our Communication and Engagement Assistants, has written a post about how to network as a minority. It can often be scary and overwhelming but the key thing to do is to start! Continue reading to see what Fatima’s top tips are when trying to network.
Networking comes easily to some and for others it is a skill you have to acquire. Despite being imperative for the evolution of one’s career, networking is often seen as being time-consuming, awkward and socially draining. Cultivating meaningful professional relationships are crucial for your career development. A strong network is the ultimate pipeline to success. Networking allows you to uncover new opportunities, connect with senior mentors and increase your visibility within your chosen field – all whilst improving your soft skills. Minorities face a unique set of challenges when it comes to networking. Feelings of isolation and alienation are common when trying to navigate these primarily white spaces. As a member of an underrepresented group, you might be baffled about where to even start. Below we have a few ideas to help you begin your networking journey:
1. Linkedin – Linkedin is the digital powerhouse of networking. You can use advanced search filters to find industry experts who may have a similar background to you. Establishing a common ground can be a good way to get the conversation rolling. For example, you could reach out to a minority KCL alumni who is now flourishing in your dream field and ask them to consider being your mentor. This person can empathize with your struggles, give advice, provide support, share their experiences and connect you to important industry leads. Sending a ‘connection request’ with a personalized note is a good way to initiate such an interaction. King’s offers online ‘Linkedin Learning’ courses to help you build a better understanding of how to utilize the site properly.
2. Put yourself out there – Part of networking is pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone. The prospect of talking to strangers can be daunting but the more you practise this skill, the easier and more natural it begins to feel. However cliché it might sound- try to be your authentic self when engaging in conversations with new people. By staying confident and true to yourself you will attract the right crowd of people. If you see someone alone, seize the opportunity by shaking their hand and introducing yourself to them – they are likely to be just as nervous as you! Also when attending networking events, set yourself a personal goal of how many people you’ll talk to and be accountable to this number – raising it every time you reach your target.
3. Networking forums– There are a range of networking forums out there designed to connect aspiring minority students with the best opportunities and mentors in their desired fields. Some great sites to check out include Access Uk, BYP Network and SEO London.
Every connection has the potential to make a positive impact on your career – so go get talking