Networking. Also known as Marmite.
People tend to either really like or really despise networking events. But there’s no denying that building your connections and putting yourself in positions where you could meet some potentially very interesting individuals will help you towards more success in your career.
Part 2 of 4: Networking
Top tips on how it can help you to achieve more success in your career
Where to start? Internal networking - within your current organisation – is a good place to begin. If you’re part of a larger company and aren’t familiar with other departments, teams and colleagues, make the effort to introduce yourself.
Look out for social events and other opportunities to meet unknown colleagues, grab a coffee with a company stranger or shadow someone in another area. The options are plenty, but it will guarantee you’ll broaden your network internally and could lead to something rather special.
Outside of your work, check out the endless list of events and meetups that take place every day across London (and other cities if you’re interested). Without plugging unnecessarily, Eventbrite, Meetups and LinkedIn are good places to look and will give you networking opportunities galore.
Think about what you want to get out of each networking occasion – is it to purely meet new people and see where the conversation might go? Is it to make connections in a specific field for a career change or new interest? Do you have a business idea you want to get some thoughts on from people that don’t know you?
If you have an aim before you start, you’ll be much more likely to have a successful networking experience – similar to goal setting, be clear with what you want to achieve, for example set a target of making at least two meaningful connections at each event.
So, you’ve found some events and signed your life away to attend, you know what you want to get out of the occasions and you’re onto a winner. What next?
- You walk into the venue;
- You see huddles of people deep in conversation;
- No one is on their own;
- You think: shit.
- You head to the drinks table and prolong the request for a glass of wine or beer;
- You turn around to face the room;
- Aha! You see an empty poseur table;
- You perch there with your beverage and out comes the phone;
- You make yourself look like you’re deeply concerned with the thing on your screen and hope nobody notices you.
Familiar episode? I like a networking event more than most people but even I find myself in this position every so often and it is a pretty poor place to be. Whether you’re not ‘feeling it’ or just aren’t in the mood to talk to strangers, you still made the effort to go so you may as well make the effort to get something from it. Otherwise why else have you sacrificed an evening to yourself?
Get some decent conversation starters prepped and find your victim, or rather soon-to-be-friend, and go over. Once you catch someone’s eye within a group, you’re 90% of the way into that conversation. A simple ‘can I join you guys’ will very rarely be met with a curt ‘no’ so you’re good. Other ways into a group? If there’s a talk coming up as part of the event discuss the speaker, find out what interested that person to attend the event, talk about the topic of the event, and if all else fails get their views on the day’s weather.
Hopefully this gets you started on your networking journey and brings about further success in your career through the people you meet and connect with. Also look out for an upcoming blog on conversation ‘outs’.
Check out next week's article for Part 3 of the How Can I Be More Successful In My Career series...