The ability to network successfully is considered to be equally as important as academic qualifications in today’s workplace when it comes to career development.

The most connected people are often the ones who thrive.

Networking events for the industry you work in or are interested in provide an opportunity to meet prospective mentors, employers, partners and also stay on top of the latest trends in your chosen field.

The subject of networking has been a central focus for year 12 students from Space Studio West London, who attended a masterclass on networking at Dell EMC’s UK headquarters in Brentford, west London.

Many of the students are thinking about applying to university or their future careers and the event was a chance to learn about the qualities employers now focus on when hiring.

The workshop was part of a four-part programme called Powering Potential, organised by the Transformation Trust. The charity aims to open opportunities to young people across the country.

The day consisted of speaking with mentors across a range of professions and backgrounds from Dell. Subjects included career progression, establishing your personal brand, university options, mapping your social media footprint and the ways that social media can impact your career.

Importantly, students were also encouraged to work in teams with people that they didn’t know, as well as presenting to the entire group of around 100 people, all of which is essential to improving confidence and public speaking skills.

These soft skills are increasingly important to employers in all sectors. People tend to co-operate much more with people who are confident, easy to get on with and can express themselves clearly.

Leila Saghir, a facilitator for The Transformation Trust who has dedicated her career to youth empowerment, gave three top tips for networking in a modern workforce:

  1. ‘’Practice speaking to people at networking events with family and friends. It’s normal to be nervous, everyone is! But practicing will improve your confidence when you engage with people that you don’t know.’’
  1. ‘’Handshake! A strong, firm handshake is the key!’’
  2. ‘’Smile. Even if you feel uncomfortable, smile and fake it until you make it, and eventually you will enjoy it.’’