As we have mentioned before, networking is a great way of meeting people who can help you to progress your career; to develop your ‘bank’ of people to outsource to; or for finding the right recruitment agency who can help you to find your next job. The old saying of “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is definitely true and the only way of knowing more people is to get yourself out there and to start networking.
- An introduction to networking
Networking can be quite a daunting prospect and the idea of walking up to people that you don’t know and starting a conversation can be quite overwhelming. However, there are some really good networking opportunities out there now that can make the whole process easier. For example, there are breakfasts where you can eat and have a chat at the same time or laid back, informal networking events where you can just go for a drink after work and meet local business people. The thing is, everyone there is in the same position as you and so they will all be wanting to make it as easy and enjoyable as possible. It’s also a case of once you have done one, the rest become easier.
- Business cards
First things first, whatever you do when you go to your networking events, don’t forget your business cards! It is the only way that anyone will be able to get in touch with you afterwards – which is the whole point of networking after all.
- Connect with your contacts
After you have gathered other people’s business cards, make sure you use them. Perhaps you could log them into a spreadsheet and record what that person does and how they may be able to help you or something interesting that they said to help jog your memory in the future. A lot of the time you might think that they’re not relevant but it’s surprising how many times that weeks or months down the line things change and it could be useful to get in touch. Also, make sure you connect with everybody that you meet on Linked In.
There are a huge number of exhibitions on pretty much every industry out there and they can be a great networking opportunity – after all you are in a room with a whole bunch of people that work in or are interested in the same sector as you. There’s also no pressure at exhibitions or business fairs, you are able to walk around and speak to whoever you think looks relevant to you. Another bonus of going to these exhibitions is that there may be companies represented that you would have never previously thought of, opening up some potential opportunities.
- Sell yourself
Be ready to sell yourself to anyone who asks. Have a concise, polished answer to the questions ‘What do you do? Where do you work?’ and if it flows in the conversation perhaps try to give a flavour of what you are aiming for.