Guest Blog by Mark Thomas
It’s no secret of recruitment that your network has tremendous value. Through building your personal and professional networks, you can create a lasting, tangible asset to further develop your career.
‘Networking’ is commonly used to describe the activities and interactions we undertake to establish new connections, exchange knowledge and information, and grow or maintain a presence in the sector or field. Outside of the workplace, networking can take place at a variety of formal or informal settings, in-person or otherwise. These include post-presentation discussions with keynote speakers at conferences, sharing canapes with your colleagues or peers at a social event, engaging in social media posts, or getting in touch with business contacts you’ve made on previous occasions.
In any case, it’s important to consider the approach best suited to you. Beyond the skills, capabilities, and experience you’re recognised for, those who encounter you will by and large create their own concept of who you are based on your personal qualities. How you encounter them will be largely on your terms. By focusing on the approaches to network that you enjoy, it’s more likely you will interact with confidence, intent, and in a way that reflects who you are as an individual. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t try other approaches too – it’s important to challenge yourself comfortably to develop self-confidence and to meet people you otherwise may not have met.
Networking is largely about the exchange of information, so it’s important to ask questions. Find some common ground with a person and start a discussion. This can be about the event you’re both attending, the work they do, whether they enjoyed the last presentation, or something else relating to the reason you’re interacting.
Combined, these everyday interactions showcase yourself as a person, first and foremost, while also providing your peers with glimmers of insight about your personal and professional values. Very often these interactions will also provide you an opportunity to present your knowledge and experience in a way that is both meaningful and productive to your discussions.
Ultimately, approaching networking with the intention to learn, support, and engage as your authentic self can directly and indirectly benefit your career and professional development. It can expose you to new ideas and different ways of thinking, build self-confidence over time, open the door to job opportunities that you may otherwise not hear about and grow your visibility in your field or help to strengthen your brand. You’ll also likely get the chance to talk with a lot of interesting, like-minded people along the way!