What is a professional network?
You may be familiar with the term 'social network'. This describes an unofficial framework built by relationships, interactions, and connections of a personal nature. 'Professional network' relates to relationships, interactions and connections of a business nature, and is made up of people you meet at work, industry events, and through mentoring opportunities.
Why is a professional network important?
Within the workplace, it is very important to have the required qualification(s) and present a great work ethic. However, professional connections are also invaluable.
We've all heard the phrase "It's not what you know, it's who you know". The people you know can be essential to your success.
Build relationships with colleagues, mentors, employers, and business acquaintances. This will allow you to ask these people for help and references through your career.
How can I build my professional network in WA?
Perfect your resumé
The first step of building your professional network is to ensure your resumé is fully up to date. It needs to be ready to send to all the new contacts you will be making!
You might think that your casual work does not relate to the industry you're hoping to enter. However; a lot of skills such as time management or teamwork, can be transferred to different jobs. Focus on these transferable skills and find ways to make your resumé stand out(opens in a new tab).
Get comfortable with digital interviews
Interviews look a little different in the current COVID-19 world. One of the biggest changes to job hunting is that many job interviews are now conducted online(opens in a new tab).
This means you should practice online interview skills with friends and family before your official interview. Focus on becoming comfortable with having your camera on and finding the best lighting and sound in your room or house. Along with practicing answering common interview questions(opens in a new tab), these techniques will put you in good stead for your interview.
Optimise your LinkedIn profile
Where Facebook and Instagram is the key to your online personal network, LinkedIn is the key to your online professional network.(opens in a new tab)
But simply having a profile is not enough! It is very important to keep your work history, resumé, and interests up to date. This way, recruiters and connections will have relevant information about you.
One of the best LinkedIn tips(opens in a new tab) is to display some personality by engaging with, and posting, interesting content often.
Maintain your online network
Technology makes keeping connected a breeze. Browse LinkedIn and Facebook to find groups relevant to your industry and interests.
For example, TAFE International Western Australia (TIWA) hosts a LinkedIn group for current international students(opens in a new tab) and alumni to access professional development opportunities. The group is intended to connect people in Australia and overseas and is the perfect way to build your professional network.
Learn something new!
A simple way to expand your professional network in WA is to expand your knowledge! The wider your skill set and experience, the wider the network of people you will come into contact with.
TIWA offers a diverse range of courses(opens in a new tab) to international students, so you can find a hobby subject, or perhaps a brand new industry full of great new contacts and connections.
Attend networking events
Networking as an international student may seem daunting, but it is much easier than you think!
StudyPerth(opens in a new tab) offers frequent in person and digital networking events, conferences, and webinars. These events provide support and networking opportunities for international students in WA. They also provide opportunities for you to meet like minded people and connections within your field of interest.
Volunteering is a wonderful way to give back to the community. It can also increase your employability, and help you settle into Australian life. As a bonus, it will broaden your professional network!
You'll be volunteering with a lot of people, including the staff of the companies you volunteer for. So, there is plenty of opportunity to build connections that may prove helpful in the future.
Find a mentor
As a TIWA student, you have a huge advantage when it comes to building your professional network. Why? You are surrounded by experienced industry leaders as your educators – exactly the kind of person you would like as a mentor.
Chat to your teachers! See if they know of any opportunities, and if they would be interested in a formal or informal mentorship with you to assist you in your career.
One last tip — follow up with your connections!
Once you have made a connection, you must keep in touch regularly. It is not enough to have hundreds of LinkedIn connections if they don't remember who you are!
Share articles of interest, wish them a happy birthday or congratulate them on their new role, and if possible, organise in person or digital coffee catch ups.
Nurturing these relationships will result in your contacts being much more willing to help you in the future. Or, better yet, they might think of you when an opportunity arises.
To develop strong links with industry to succeed in the future employment market, choose TAFE International Western Australia (TIWA) for globally recognised courses delivered by dedicated lecturers with industry experience and connections. Check out the wide range of courses that TIWA has to offer and detailed information on the application process. You can apply to study with TIWA by completing an online application(opens in a new tab).