How to build your professional network? Summary of PitchMe's lecture at Coventry University London

PitchMe's co-founder Piotr has recently had a pleasure to talk about careers to a number of final year students, fresh graduates and young professionals. Last Thursday he met with a current cohort of MBA students from the Coventry University London and had some very inspiring discussions with the group and their course leader, Dr. Beem Beeka.

In the era of extremely competitive job markets PitchMe always highlights the importance of networking over the “dumping” approach of sending 10s or 100s of CV for more or less random positions. The odds of getting a job these days using conventional recruitment methods look very grim for a candidate.

It must be said at the beginning, that in order to be successful on the job market you need to possess skills and a certain level of academic aptitude, unfortunately nowadays there is no way around this. However, from our (read: PitchMe Founders') personal experience, our actual skills were never the most important factor! Every single job or internship that we have ever got was influenced by personal connections, either directly with the potential employer or with people who recommended us for the roles.

How can a young, aspiring and ambitious young professional develop their network? Piotr presented the following 3 ways to build a professional network and have fun in the process:

1. Make a lot of great personal relationships during your time at University

If you got into a University that has a selective recruitment process, you can be sure that you are not surrounded by random people. They may all behave like an immature bunch right now, but most likely within a decade they will end up in top positions at world’s renowned organisations. So cherish the time you spend with them and remember, the closer bonds you build now, the better your network in the future will be.

2. Join a professional membership body or a society. Attend events and collect business cards. Follow up on the connections you make!

One of the best ways to mingle with experienced professionals is to attend events and networking sessions. We know this can be terrifying - how do you approach those people, how do you start a conversation, how do you keep them engaged? It may be a trivial comparison, but a professional networking session can be compared to being in a bar and approaching people. When you are a student and you learn how to approach random people in social situations, it will be much easier for you in professional environments as it requires the same set of skills - courage, having something interesting to say and being able to communicate it in an interesting way.

3. Join an innovative recruitment platform

An effective recruiter will not be throwing you into random recruitment process by ‘dumping’ your CV wherever he can only to attract his commission. A good recruiter will coach you to find out what is your desired career path and will make you realise what skills you require to achieve that. A great recruiter will then help you gain those skills by engaging you with potential employers in a productive setting (NOT an assessment centre!) where you will be able to get to know the company and build a lasting relationship. This is the process that differentiates PitchMe from any other platform on the market.

Reading this may sound cliche, but having spoken with numerous successful individuals, those are indeed the key factors to building a successful career. The fact is that in any organisation the more senior you become, your work becomes less content-based and more relationship-oriented. Business development is all about knowing people and being in the right place at the right time. The earlier to realise this, the more likely you are to be successful!

As described above, you can actually turn this process into a lot of fun… It just requires the right mindset.