How can networking help you?
“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is an excellent saying to remember when you are job hunting or looking to progress in your chosen career and networking is crucial to your career development. Making connections through networking with the right people and maintaining these connections will really work for you in the long term. Networking can help you identify new career paths, hear and learn about others’ experiences and find out about jobs and opportunities that you may not have heard about otherwise.
If you are unsure where to start with attending a networking event, then you can often find out about arranged events, for example through your chosen profession. These arranged events will get you meeting people with common goals and interests to you. If you have a networking event planned, it is important to remember the following:
Communication skills and creating a good impression
As so much of what we communicate is through our non-verbal actions, it is important to remember how you come across when speaking to a new contact. Remember to maintain good eye contact and have an awareness of your body language and what it might be communicating to the people you are speaking to. Dress appropriately for the occasion and smile! It will help you look friendly and approachable. Always be polite and respect others’ opinions even if they differ from your own and speak clearly and with confidence.
Effective networking will require you to make a good impression on people you meet. Before the event, think about what you want to say beforehand and show an interest in what they have to say – asking appropriate questions will show you are interested and listening to the person you are networking with. It is important to listen to them carefully, not only will you gain correct information about possible career paths, but also to create a good impression on someone who could potentially be an important contact for you during your career.
Making contacts and staying in touch
One of the goals of networking is to create a useful pool of contacts. If you have business cards, hand them to the contacts you meet, if it is appropriate, and ask for their business card or contact details in return. Your attendance and effort at a networking event will be wasted if you do not stay in contact! Make sure you follow up with these contacts after the event and keep in touch regularly whether by phone or email, whichever feels most appropriate. By keeping in touch with these contacts, you will help ensure that you are informed as possible when it comes to future career opportunities.