So we are all likely to need to meet new people in our work lives – whether you are thinking of a career change or not. And that’s what networking is really, it is just making connections with people.
My thought is that you shouldn’t just think of networking as a chance to find people who can be helpful to you – but think of it as a chance to grow your own community, to find people who do interesting things and have interesting ideas, as well as connecting with people who may find what you do fascinating and useful.
When you stop thinking of networking as sales on the sly, it actually becomes a lot more enjoyable! But for those of us who still can’t get on board with ‘traditional’ warm wine and suits networking, here are a few ways to network that you may not considered.
Use Social Media – if you want to find out more about a particular industry, a particular role or want to raise your profile, consider using social media – are there any facebook groups you can join? What about checking out twitter hours? LinkedIn is a great place to make connections and get noticed, so think about what value you can bring? Or who you know that does something interesting you might like to know more about?
My only caveat with SM is to beware of the time sucking demons – aimlessly scrolling through facebook groups is not ‘networking’ so just be aware of how much time you are devoting to it.
Consider who you know already (and who they know) – if you are looking to explore a particular career angle, or are looking for a new role, asking your existing network can be a great place to start making new introductions. Chances are if they are in your network already, they know you, and so would be much more likely to introduce you to relevant people. A simple email out, or a social media post could really help you meet lots of new, interesting, people.
Play to your strengths – think about the kind of person you are. If you love big groups then by all means dive into the traditional networking scene. But if you are better 1:1, then think about going out for coffee with an acquaintance. If you feel more relaxed, the chances are you will get more out of the experience. And if you don’t mind intense 1:1 experiences, how about speed networking? Lots of 1:1 conversations over a small amount of time, with no awkward loitering around looking for people to talk to!
Think outside the box – networking (or just having a nice chat with someone) doesn’t have to happen in a formal environment. If you work from home, considering popping along to a coworking event, and many of them now have creches so if you have little ones, it can be the perfect way to get a few hours of work done too.
I hope those have been helpful - there are so many ways to make connections that don’t involve standing around making small talk with warm wine, so it’s worth thinking about what works for you. If you fancy getting more networking tips, why not head over to my free Facebook group The Returnity Lounge, or if you fancy a 1:1 chat, then please book a free 20 minute Discovery call by clicking here.