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Jun 03

Category: 3Search Updates, Career Advice

Does the thought of networking make you want to run and hide? Never swapped business cards in your career? Don’t panic. As we launch our latest event this week, we’ve written a blog with the aim to take you through everything you need to know to fast-track your way to some exciting opportunities!

Why is networking so important? It’s inevitable

We all want to grow our networks, but it’s impossible to do so without engaging and interacting with people within your industry. Making small talk with people you barely know isn’t a walk in the park and definitely not on the top of everyone’s to-do-lists.

With 1 in 4 professionals failing to network at all and 85% of jobs filled through connections, the statistics don’t add up. Professionals claim that the most connected people are often the most successful and investing in relationships, no matter when or how, can benefit you throughout the course of your career. Not only will it develop your skillset, it will also help you to stay on top of the latest trends within your industry and keep a firm pulse on the market.

Let’s just say, the phrase ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ is not a myth. Knowing the right people will no doubt help you get your foot in the door.

So, what types of networking events may you find yourself in?

  1. Conferences

Conferences are a magnet for professionals. Being in a room full of, what can be, hundreds of people, it is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of who surrounds you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions during talks, greet speakers and mingle with the audience. And be sure to hand out business cards to get your name seen by as many people as possible.

  1. Networking Drinks

A glass of wine or beer always helps in brushing away the nerves, particularly if this is your first event! They are designed specifically for people to ‘work the room’ and introduce yourself to as many people as possible. These events are generally more of an intimate occasion than conferences, so make sure you give some time to researching who will be there to ensure you speak and connect with the most worthwhile contacts to you.

  1. Job Interviews

In any interview, the aim of the game is to impress the people in front of you. Regardless of whether you receive an offer or not, making a lasting impression will likely set you up for future opportunities.

The end goal

The thing most people are afraid of is conjuring small talk into meaningful and worthwhile conversations.

The golden rule? Don’t start a conversation all guns blazing – it will be clear to the person you are approaching that you have a set intention. Show your interest in speaking with them, rather than your interest in what they can offer you.

If the subject stray’s slightly off topic, it’s not the end of the world. But if you do have an expectation, make sure it happens naturally rather than diving in straight away. Treat it like any normal friendship. Get to know them as a person before asking for favours.

Maintaining relationships – it doesn’t stop at the event!

Dedication and commitment are required to keep up appearances to stay connected! Don’t let all your hard work go to waste. Here are a few steps to help sustain your new formed relationship.

  1. After the event, make sure you connect with everyone you met –your name should be fresh in their mind and instantly recognised when the invite is sent on LinkedIn. Go that one step further and write a personalised message in your request, something along the lines of ‘It was lovely to meet you (name). Would be great to stay in touch!’
  2. Why not suggest meeting over a coffee or drinks if you think the contact could be beneficial to both yourself and them. Most people will be more than happy to do this and it’s the perfect way to keep the relationship lasting.
  3. Don’t ignore at future events. Always say hello and reintroduce yourself if it’s been a while. This gesture goes a long way!

Don’t forget about social media!

Social networking is the new trend everyone has jumped on. Agreed, it isn’t as personal as a face-to-face meet, but it is still very worthwhile to pursue.

LinkedIn may spring to mind. It is designed to connect with professionals from all levels within your industry. Ensure your profile is up to date – a dormant profile is no use to anyone. Engage with your connections, share and like posts, even write an article if you feel you have something worthwhile to say. This will all start conversations with the people you want to network with the most.

The crucial do’s and don’ts

Do:

  • Find out who will be at the event you are attending to ensure you are speaking with the right people valuable to you.
  • Make eye contact, smile, and approach with a warm and friendly attitude.
  • Establish a rapport first before diving into the more serious stuff.
  • Ask questions. Show you’re interested and engaged in the conversation.

Don’ts:

  • Talk too much.
  • Be too casual. If you build a great rapport with someone, don’t slip into talking with slang or being over-friendly.
  • Abandon your end goal. Keep the conversation on topic and refrain from getting too involved in big political debates. It will never go down well!
  • Most importantly, don’t get too drunk. Free drinks at a cocktail party are great, but you still want to make a lasting impression and remember the conversations you’ve had!

It’s never too early or too late to invest in your network. Take control of your future and make your mark in the industry by putting yourself out there and giving it a try.

“The richest people in the world look for and build networks, everyone else looks for work.” Robert Kiyosaki, Businessman and Author

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3Search is an award-winning UK recruitment consultancy, specialising in marketing, strategy & transformation, and tech positions. Whether you’re seeking new talent or looking for your next career move, we can help. Learn more at www.3search.co.uk.