It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. While nepotism has its limits (you’re never going to get a job as a molecular biologist purely on the basis of having the right connections), knowing someone in the industry you want to get into can’t do your chances any harm. At the very least you can phone up to cadge a few tips on what to put in the covering letter before you fire off your CV to the cold unknown of an HR department.
Think you only have friends and relations in totally useless places? Consider the theory of six degrees of separation — which means you are just six introductions away from literally any other person on the planet. So your Auntie June’s first cousin (that’s right, the one who fits boilers for a living) could have a mate who has a mate who is the wife of a close colleague of Barack Obama. Meanwhile, her neighbour, who runs a hairdressing salon in Swindon, may just be a few precious steps away from Stephen Hawking, Angela Merkel or, er, Peter Andre. Truly, the world is connected.
And with our old buddy the worldwide web, there are a host of e-networking sites which will allow you to skip across the degrees of separation, schmooze up a storm and build a powerhouse of career-enhancing contacts.
That’s not to say that e-networking is a complete doddle. There’s the conundrum of what to say to someone you haven’t seen in a decade or more but who is apparently now forging ahead in the film industry — especially when your memory of them is the time they nicked a biscuit out of your lunchbox when you were at primary school together. Some subtlety is required.