Building your business network during your MSc year

19 March 2021

WBS Careers Coach, Davina Noonan gives her advice to those looking to build their business networking during their time at Warwick Business School.

Gaining clarity on the sector and function you’re most interested in
In order to build a worthwhile network, it’s good to gain clarity on the sector(s) and the function(s) you are most interested in moving into, and simultaneously do an analysis on the areas which are projected to increase hiring trends. This will enable you to make a well informed decision on the route you decide to pursue.

While it’s important to be enthusiastic and passionate about what you do, recessionary times allow for less luxury in the pursuit of less abundant roles. If there is little demand for a certain role and fewer opportunities in this area, it’s probably not the best option at present. My advice is to stick to sectors that are likely to continue to hire.

Next, look at the skills gaps between what these projected roles require and your current knowledge and skill base, and try to build on this as much as possible whilst completing your studies.

Network with those in the roles you’re interested in
Once you get a list of target roles and companies within these sectors you can then start to research employees within these organisations. Once you’ve found them, make contact with them via LinkedIn or if you can get their direct email address from a company website, even better. Explain your reasoning for getting in contact, reference some research you have done which aligns with their role, and ask them if they would have time for a short informational call to understand further about the internal workings of their role and the organisation.

State that you are interested in moving into a similar role and would like to learn more about the internal workings of their company/department/team and would also like to learn about what the current recruitment hiring timelines are and if they have line of sight on any openings in the next 6-12 months, or when you plan to graduate.

Don’t be put off by rejection
This reach out stage can be difficult and there can be lots of rejection, try to treat it as a numbers game and know that for every 20 contacts you find and message, you may only get 1 reply. This in part is due to how you word your initial message and whether the recipient feels as though you have done the initial groundwork on their sector, function and organisation. In short, some clarity on what it is you are curious about and why you are curious about it is key. Remember, your target contacts have little time for those who are unclear about what they want to do.

It's important to be respectful of people’s time; they may not be responding due to many factors. Whilst you shouldn’t be put off by rejection, you shouldn’t continue to push someone if they’re not interested in supporting you, as this can be perceived as disrespectful and could count against you.

Establish a common interest
Once you establish a common interest the relationship-building should become relatively easier in that you will be speaking with like-minded individuals who are passionate about the same profession. Finally, wherever possible when building your network, try to establish ‘warm’ connections. Someone who has completed their studies in the same university as you, the same course as you, attended the same societies, held positions in companies you have previously worked in or are from the same country/location as you, can all serve to support your efforts.

All of our MSc students can get access to our bespoke CareersPlus support, including one-to-one sessions, workshops, CV advice, and much more.