It's not as easy to build and use your social network as it is to build and use a résumé or a cover letter. Therefore, it can be difficult to see the benefits of having a network. A positive starting point is to recognize that a broad network strengthens your ability to to get a job.
Your current network is drawn from different areas of your life: current and previous jobs, training/courses you've attended, professional commitments outside of work and your personal contacts. It's important to start building your network before you need it, and continue to do so after you got your job. When it comes to expanding your network, you should focus on the people who can benefit from what you have to offer such as investors, customers, colleagues or employer/recruiters/HR personnel.
When it comes time to mingle/network, remember these four things:
- What is your goal with the mingle? Are you looking for a job, thesis project, research grants or collaboration partners? Is there a particular person or company you are particularly interested in?
- Prepare your "elevator pitch" so you can express yourself without stumbling over your words.
- Smile and believe in yourself.
- Be curious and listen to others.