What is networking?
Networking is the action of meeting and interacting with others to create mutually beneficial connections and build professional relationships.
Networking can happen organically. For example, you’ve just attended a fantastic talk and you get chatting to the other attendees after the event. However, you’ll also find that many companies offer specific networking events. These are generally targeted at specific industries in order to bring together likeminded individuals.
The days of chatting with a bunch of strangers in person over coffee and cake seem to be over for the time being. But, that doesn’t mean that networking itself has gone or even fundamentally changed. It remains one of the best ways to get yourself out there, exchange ideas, build connections and strengthen your business. Check out sites such as Find Networking Events to find relevant opportunities.
Networking correctly establishes meaningful connections that can offer valuable resources for years to come. Our top tips to ensure you get the best out of your networking experience are:
The best way to get value out of your networking connections is to ensure that you bring your own value to share with others.
At its core, networking revolves around connecting two individuals to help them achieve their goals. Each person can offer support and assistance in areas the other may be lacking.
Before you sign up for a networking event or start reaching out on networking platforms, have a good think about what kind of connections you are looking to gain and what you can bring to the table in return.
Plan in advance
Do your research and find a networking event or platform that suits your needs.
For day to day networking and maintaining connections, LinkedIn is a fantastic option. Ensure your profile is up-to-date, professional and informative. Recruiters often use networking and social media platforms to assess candidates and view their skills and experience.
For specific online events be sure to check out socials to see who has attended in the past and read the comments and feedback to see how they usually run. You may also be able to find the attendee list in advance and start to identify interesting potential connections.
Connect with the right people
One mistake we often see is that people think the more connections you have the better and, while having a large network can be great, we think it’s much more beneficial to create quality connections.
You should be looking to build professional relationships that are mutually beneficial in the long term. Look to connect with people in your industry who share your core values and those who work in other industries that interest you or are relevant to specific goals you have in mind.
Networking platforms, such as LinkedIn, also offer a fantastic opportunity for re-connecting with people from your past. Think about colleagues and supervisors you got on well with, the people who were on your university course and friends who work in similar industries. Any one of these people could be the one to help you advance your career.
Interact on the event platform
If you are attending a specific networking event, make sure you are being active on the event platform and not just focussing on connecting with specific people.
When there’s a speaker at the event, add a question for them to answer. If the event centres around a specific topic, share a relevant article. Another idea is to ask for other attendees’ opinions on recent industry news.
This is a great way to engage more fully with the event and encourage others to seek you out.
Stay in touch with your network
You’ve connected with all these wonderful and interesting people. Now what? Make sure you continue to grow your professional relationships with them!
Reach out to hear how they got on with a task they told you about, interact with their posts on different platforms to show you care and share articles or news you think they might be interested in.
Remember that growing a strong network isn’t done in a day, you need to invest in your professional relationships over time.