Christine Little, chief executive of the Federation of Recruitment and Employment Services, tells Nancy Cavill her top 10 tips for networking.
More than half of all job vacancies are never advertised, so if you are looking for a new job or seeking promotion, networking could be the answer. The Federation of Recruitment and Employment Services estimates that 60% of jobs are not advertised because employers already know of suitable candidates or hear of them through mutual contacts.

Federation chief executive Christine Little says networking should be approached in a systematic and professional manner. "Don't think all you need to do is suck up to the company chairman and a few industry bigwigs," she says. "If it's done badly, networking can get your name mentioned for all the wrong reasons, and if it's ignored, you will undoubtedly miss opportunities." The federation offers 10 tips for successful networking:

1 Attend relevant industry events

Go to seminars and training days and try not to rush off thinking you have done your bit just by showing your face. Take time to chat to people. Tell them what you are aiming for, hand out cards and ask for theirs.

Do not worry about the cost of attending these events. Little says: "Most companies will be willing to contribute to the cost of attending an industry event, so don't be afraid to ask. Ultimately, it's beneficial to the company as well because networking often results in new business leads."

2 Get involved in social functions

Networking does not have to be boring. Good contacts can be made by, for example, participating in industry organised sports events. You may strike up some useful relationships over a drink after the match.

3 Use recruitment consultants

Ensure that you have a contact among recruitment consultants in your field. Keep in touch, but do not irritate the person by phoning every other week for no reason.

4 Be bold

Introduce yourself, and remember that most people find networking difficult to start with. Think of an opening topic in advance, or you could end up saying something inappropriate or, worse, being tongue-tied.

5 Be aware

Don’t think all you need to do is suck up to the chairman and a few industry bigwigs. If it’s done badly, networking can get your name mentioned for all the wrong reasons

Keep abreast of current affairs and industry issues so you can contribute to discussions.

6 Don't be afraid to make small-talk

It will help you find out more about the person you are talking to and means that they are more likely to remember you: "Oh, you're the one who canoed down the Zambezi."

7 Don't linger

Don't monopolise someone or their only impression will be that you are a pain. If they start looking over your shoulder in an attempt to catch a colleague's eye, you know it's time to move on.

8 Don't crawl

Don't be too sycophantic to senior colleagues – chances are they will see straight through it and you will not win their respect. Contacts in your own peer group can also be very valuable.

9 Be a good contact

Offer a helping hand to colleagues and contacts at other firms whenever you can. If someone does you a favour, try to return it.

10 Keep in touch