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What are the best ways for apprentices to network?

Will digital networking replace the face-to-face variety?

In many cases, no matter the industry, the people you’ve connected with and worked for are just as important as your qualifications or tangible skills. From past colleagues and managers to friends working in an industry you want to break into, networking with people is a great way to boost your apprenticeship eligibility outside of traditional education options.

While networking is a simple concept at the base level, there is still a wide range of do’s and don’t’s that people may not be aware of. For example, one of the most important things to consider is the balance between face-to-face and digital networking. While LinkedIn has made the process easier, it acts as a companion to, rather than a replacement to, traditional networking processes.

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What are some common networking mistakes?

Mainly due to the influence of LinkedIn, it’s now much easier for people to build large networks of seemingly influential people. However, quantity doesn’t necessarily correlate with quality, as management experts Rob Cross and Robert J Thomas reported in an article for the Harvard Business Review.

It’s easy – and tempting – for people to treat LinkedIn like it’s Facebook, and simply add people based on tenuous connections. For the site to be truly valuable, however, people need to treat it like real life networking, and build connections with valuable contacts they’ve actually engaged with before. Simply connecting with managers and colleagues when leaving a job or starting a new one is a great way to expand the number of connections people have without diluting quality.

Are you active on professional social media networks?

Is networking different for tradespeople?

While LinkedIn is considered the leading digital networking tool by people across a range of industries, some also think of it as more business-focussed and not as attractive to tradespeople. An article published on Digital First suggests this is not an idea that has gone unnoticed, and many new alternatives are now clamouring to be the first “Blue-collar LinkedIn”.

Sites such as Trade Exchange are looking to fill this void in the market by providing online networking opportunities that are specific to tradespeople and the industries they frequent. Organisations looking for an apprentice to hire may also benefit from these sites as well, especially as they begin to grow in popularity.

The real question is, will these alternatives ever be able to truly rival LinkedIn? Until the answer is clear, it’s worth apprentices spreading their attention across both.

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