We’re all familiar with the phrase ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’, and never was this truer than in the world of business. Now, we’re not talking secret handshakes and underground societies, but knowing the right people (and by that, we mean people who are connected with, or knowledgeable about, the industry or company you want to be working in), can give you the inside track when it comes to securing your dream role.
If you’re new to networking, the prospect can be somewhat daunting, but extending your professional network beyond the confines of your current office can work wonders for your career — as long as you approach it in the right way.
Choose your events carefully
- Not every networking event will be right for you, so try to choose the ones that suit your lifestyle and interests, and think carefully about what you’d like to get out of each one — whether that’s a new job, a mentor, or meeting like-minded people.
Know what you’re about
- You’ll want to talk about your interests and hobbies outside of work, but you should also be prepared to talk to new people about your job, what you’re good at, and where you’re aiming. Be confident, not cocky, and remember that the people you meet aren’t just stepping stones to a promotion, so be friendly and have fun.
Take business cards
- Networking events are a great chance to promote yourself as a brand, so always take along business cards with all of your contact details on them (including your phone number, email address and twitter handle). And if you don’t have business cards — but don’t fancy forking out for them — get Googling: some sites offer them for free as a trial.
Take your own support
If you find the prospect of rubbing shoulders with a room full of strangers slightly nerve-wracking, take someone with you to make the whole thing a little less overwhelming. It’s best not to take the sort of friend you’ll want to talk to all night to the exclusion of everyone else, so invite someone who’ll put you at your ease at the start of the night, but who you can leave to their own devises while you mingle.
Network at your own pace
- It’s never a good idea to race around the room with a set agenda of how many people you should be talking to, so try to relax and see where the night takes you. If you do meet someone you’d like to stay in contact with, add them on Linkedin, follow them on twitter, or email them to say that you enjoyed learning more about them and what they do.
And if you don’t feel comfortable with the thought of networking in the flesh, the internet has made it incredibly easy to expand your contacts from the comfort of your desk.
- Twitter is one of the easiest ways to meet like-minded folk, because you can search for the people who are talking about the subjects that you’re interested in. You can even follow the companies that you’d be interested in working for, and try to engage in some relevant dialogue with them. If you impress, who knows what it could lead to — we know of plenty of people who’ve been offered jobs through Twitter. God bless social media.
- LinkedIn is probably the best online tool for showcasing your skills, qualifications, work history, and recommendations; and for any freelancers out there, it can be a great way to attract new clients. As you build up your bank of useful contacts, you’ll find yourself being introduced to people outside of your network — people who might just recommend you for your dream job.
Blogging is a brilliant way to get your name out there by talking about the things that interest you. If your blog has a professional edge, even better; but make sure you add your contact details so that interested parties can get in touch, and use facebook, twitter and LinkedIn to promote any new posts.
Follow our tried and tested tips for effective networking and you’ll expand that must-have contact list in no time. And if you do need any extra advice when it comes to preparing for a networking event or getting your online profile up to scratch, we’re always happy to help.