Graduates are finding it tough as they engage with today’s job market. My recent research suggests they recognize relationship-building is a critical strategy in their job search. In part, it involves identifying opportunities to meet people where making genuine connections are likely. Then leveraging them for advice, support, introductions, and referrals. A great place to start is with peers with common interests. That’s where Young Professionals Networks can help. So, what are they and why join them?
In terms of helping my career, networking events are crucial – the Young Rail Professional is a fantastic example of this. Graduate
Types of Young Professionals Networks
Networking is the jargon, but the reality is whatever you want to make it. For some graduates, a stimulating, career-enhancing, and an often social environment is just the place for them. Because they want to join a tribe to learn, share, and have fun. Also, Young Professionals Networks come in different flavours and sizes. Here are some examples that might be a prompt to look up what is relevant to you or even to start a YPN yourself:
- Industry/Sector – Railways, Construction, Nuclear, Energy, Engineering and Technology, Renewables, Water, Property, Arts, Charities,
- Professional – North-East Young Chartered Accountants Group, London Young Lawyers Group, Nurses, Management Consultancy, Event Marketing, Digital, Young Engineers, Young Arts Fundraisers
- Specific Interest – Young Business & Professional Women (BPW), The Girls’ Network, Manchester Girl Geeks (STEM), Black Young Professionals Network (BYP), Gay Professional Network (GPN), Young Advisors (Community engagement network), Creative Youth Network, Youth Employment UK, Bright Futures Societies (Universities), Emerging Leaders Network (Uprising)
- Business – Junior Chamber International (JCI), YENA (young entrepreneurs), MeetUp London
- Location-based – e.g. Bristol, Durham, Merseyside, Cardiff, Glasgow
- Alumni – University/College/School
- Organizational – internal groups linked to graduate and apprentice schemes
Primarily, networking is about making connections to build relationships. You meet someone who you click with. You have common interests. Something resonates at a personal or business level. Also, we warm to people who get where we’re coming from or what we’re going through – the tough times and the good.
No one gets married on the first date and it’s the same with meeting new people at a professional event. Making initial connections is only the start of a series of conversations. They can lead to beneficial and productive relationships to help your job search and career.
How do you connect with someone? You might be uncomfortable in group situations or be energized by them. Some of us prefer it when we already know someone there. And others are happier talking with strangers. Whatever your preference, it’s normal to have hopes, fears, and expectations when you attend Young Professionals Networks for the first time. Familiarity leads to less anxiety so long as you stick with it. Check out these interpersonal tips for how to connect instantly with anyone.
Activities and benefits
Most Young Professionals Networks meet regularly and have a calendar of events and activities for the year ahead. Here are some examples of what you can expect:
- Talks and debates with external and internal speakers
- Continuing Professional Development (CPD) opportunities
- Mentoring opportunities (as a mentor and being mentored)
- Visits to employers and interesting locations (here and abroad)
- Conferences, seminars, networking events
- Online communities and resources
- Community engagement activities
- Fundraising for charities
So, what do you get from joining Young Professionals Networks?
- New friendships and a sense of belonging – to build your network
- Introductions and referrals – to help your job and career research and to tap into the hidden job market
- Advice and guidance – to prompt ideas and different ways to move forward
- Encouragement and support – to increase your confidence
- Personal and professional development – to enhance your knowledge and skills
What’s your experience? Which Young Professionals Networks would you recommend?