In today’s #MyNextSteps blog, our Career Consultant Irrum Magre dives into the dreadful world of… networking! Or is it really that dreadful? Read on to find out how you can transform your thinking about networking, and start using conversations to learn about possible future paths and careers.
I am actually quite resistant to the word ‘Networking’. Often it conjures up a dread – an almost unnatural, cringe-worthy situation. Imagine this, a room (actual room!) with people badged up with their name stickers, working the room with their 1-minute elevator pitch already rehearsed. Yikes, I hear you say?
Well, here I’m writing a piece about networking and I hope you will agree by the time you finish reading this, that it doesn’t need to be tricky to do and importantly, you find a way that it works for you!
Back to basics
If you get a bit squeamish about using your contacts and need some help with building professional relationships, try to think of networking as a non-transactional process. Rather, move it into a space of conversation. At its simplest, networking is just talking to people!
There is no rule that to build a network you have to be an extrovert and go to events and shake hands with loads of people. Some of the most successful networkers are introverts who have built up a community of followers online through blogs or social media. Use your natural strengths and abilities to create a network of people. If you like writing, start blogging about your field or business. Or if you like parties, host them or attend them (when we can meet in large groups of course!).
The age of online networking
It is worth mentioning, as we are mostly working from home, online networking through professional platforms like Linkedin are proving to be more popular than ever. Generally, most people are quite happy to talk about themselves and are usually happy to help others who are interested in that work. So, with increased accessibility, you can now, easily build a powerful network from the comfort of your own home! If you are more inclined to attend a business function/physical event…you may have to wait.
Networking is about the long game
“Networking is about relationship building. Let’s say, for example, you go to a networking event and you meet someone there who is ideal for you, your dream employer – get chatting to them, make an impression on them, make a positive impression. There is no harm in saying to them at that time “I would be really interested in working for your company, would it be possible to come and see you and get some advice?” Andy Lopata (Business Networking strategist).
Lopata’s advice above is absolutely right when he encourages reaching out to potential employers. But additionally, I also am a firm believer in creating this space in which you are willing to give, even if it’s not directly to someone who’s helped you because networks aren’t quite so overt nor a quick fix. They take time to build and develop. So in all of this, there is a balance to strike and the only way to become seasoned at networking conversations is to practise, practise, practise!
Looking to dive deeper to learning about networking? Come and see us, book a Career Guidance session and try out some of your questions with us and get your mojo on. We love working with students to help you take your next step. Take a look at our Networking KEATS page for more resources.