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 develop your career further.
‘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 in 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 concept of who you are based on your qualities. How you encounter them will be mainly on your terms. By focusing on the approaches to network that you enjoy, it’s more likely you will interact with confidence and 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 mainly about exchanging 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, their work, 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 providing your peers with glimmers of insight into your personal and professional values. Very often, these interactions will also provide you with an opportunity to present your knowledge and experience in a way that is both meaningful and productive to your discussions.
You are, ultimately, approaching networking 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 to talk with many interesting, like-minded people along the way!