Maintaining and expanding networks

Networks play an important role especially in job seeking. The networks can reveal career opportunities that interest you and tips on ways in which you can have an easier time finding a job. Networks are important both for information flow and the sharing of ideas, updating your expertise and developing your competence.

Networking in job seeking

Many workplaces seek employees through networks. The larger the network you have, the more likely you can hear about interesting positions and the more likely it is that the recruiter knows someone who knows you as well.  So, there are several reasons why we should build and maintain our own networks. 

Networks are built over time from the people who we see in school, while studying, in our hobbies and at work. When we move to another country, we usually need to pay special attention to building our networks. This is often the case when we move back to a country where we have not lived in a long time. When moving to another country, in addition to job seeking, networks are important across various other areas of life: gaining new friends and acquaintances and settling down to live in the country.

Networking takes place organically as we meet other people. However, you could (and should) grow your networks in a variety of conscious ways as well. Networks are not built in a day. Instead, you should intently work on them.

Job seeking can sometimes feel lonely, especially if it takes a long time. Networks can provide empowering peer support.

Only a minority of people feel that building networks is one of their strengths. If consciously building networks feels difficult to you, do not let it discourage you. Both building and making use of networks is something you learn as you do it.

  • Two-way interaction is a good starting point for networking
    You should ask for tips and support, but also remember to give it back to other people – this way, the networks can benefit everyone.
  • Maintain your network
    If you have not been in contact with someone for a long time, the threshold to get in touch with them may feel steep.  Therefore, you should remember to look after your networks! Keep in touch with your contacts and ask them how they are doing from time to time, for example, by email or by suggesting a meeting if possible. You should also tend to your social media networks.  One thing that may help with that is participating in discussions and responding to questions that other people have asked. 
  • Activity and initiative are key
    Do not hesitate to contact other people and take the initiative. 

Networking in work life

Expanding and maintaining networks is also vital for people who already have a job.  We should also not forget to maintain our existing networks. On the other hand, it is good to remember that our networks slightly change over time.

In the work community, we naturally encounter and meet new people, and the networking happens organically. We should nonetheless try to be active. Especially when we start at a new job, we should invest in taking the time to know the others there and take the initiative. 

Networking tips

  • Seek out events, places and situations where you can build networks
    Seminars, courses and work- or job seeking-related fairs and events are particularly good occasions for building professional networks. We can also expand our networks through volunteer work and in our hobbies, for example. Be active in all sorts of events and approach people with friendliness and an open mind! Remember that very few people will get offended by the fact that someone showed interest in them.

  • Use social media to your advantage
    • LinkedIn is a good channel for professional networking.  To start, you should compile your own existing network there. Sending invitations to join your own network is natural once you have met a person in an event organized either physically or remotely. You can send an invite also to a person whom you have never met. However, in this case, you should tailor the invite to them and explain the reasons why you would like to network with the person. This way, the recipient will be more likely to accept your request. Many workplaces make use of LinkedIn in employee recruitment. You should therefore try to keep your LinkedIn profile up to date. 
    • Twitter is a public discussion forum. On Twitter, you can follow people, companies and topics and discussions that interest you and take part in the discussions. 
    • You can also make use of Facebook during job seeking by following companies and networks that interest you. On Facebook, you can find groups to join that are related to your job seeking, profession and interests. When you use a social media platform, you should acquaint yourself with its rules regarding good conduct on the platform.
  • Finding a mentor
    Many feel that mentoring is a particularly useful and valuable form of support in building a professional network and for gaining tips and ideas for job seeking and career development. You can find a mentor by joining a mentorship programme, for example. Various organizations organize mentorship programmes aimed at immigrants in particular. These are organized through various project funding, and information on them can be found on social media and on the websites of the organizations. Ongoing mentorship programmes in 2022 include Get your own mentor (Luckan Integration) and Womento mentoring (Väestöliitto, in Finnish).