Some professionals (like Jacques) love networking as it gives them the chance to converse with like-minded individuals, share ideas about your industry and eat some free food in the process. However, for others, it can be an incredibly daunting and intimidating event to partake in.
The act of introducing yourself to strangers, making small talk and trying to forge beneficial working relationships can be overwhelming for even the most confident person, but it is definitely an exercise that is worth the effort. Although, once you know how to do it effectively, you will be making crucial contacts in no time.
Networking, both within your own company and a wider circle of professionals, can not only help support and enhance your career but can also help you to understand and learn about other employees’ roles within a company.
For example, if you are known to an employee within another department and an exciting role comes up within said department, who do you think will find out about it first?
Networking with other professionals in your industry can also help you gain new business or build long-standing relationships with potential new clients.
From where to go to network, how to get the conversational ball rolling and even the benefits of virtual networking, the below tips will tell you everything you need to know to successfully network at events.
There is no point just talking to anyone who seems willing to connect with you; you need to create relationships that are mutually beneficial for both parties involved. Look for individuals that can add value to your professional life both in the short and the long term, as well as those who are willing to listen, advise and actively demonstrate their skillset.
Avoid networking with people just because they are fun but offer little else in the way of merit.
This is very important as making a poor first impression could lose you valuable contact forever. When you are attending an event, it is vital that you do the following:
● Make sure that you always dress smartly and appropriately at networking events
● Have your business cards ready to hand out when needed
● Be able to summarise your professional capacity in a few straightforward sentences
● Actively listen and be interested in potential contacts
It is also beneficial to follow up any introductions with a quick email or message after the event to show that you value the connection that was made and to ensure you stay memorable to them.
Long gone are the days when networking events had to take place in a hotel conference room or specific industry events; now professionals can network 24/7 if they want to via social media.
Professional Facebook and LinkedIn groups are an extremely efficient and easy way to connect with industry peers as well as a way to keep informed on the latest trade trends.
If you ever want to ask a contact for help or advice, or even to put in a good word for you professionally, you need to ensure that you have kept the working relationship stable and healthy by:
● Making sure you communicate regularly; online or in-person
● Offering help or advice to them when needed
● Remembering specific details that they have shared with you
● Helping grow their professional network by introducing them to people of interest.