We’re back again today to talk about a new subject: “Networking” or “network creation”. There are several ways to meet people and expand your professional network. Trade fairs, seminars and conferences are very traditional networking methods.
Well, that was before COVID…since then everything has gone virtual. Business lunches have disappeared, seminars have become webinars, coffee breaks have gone virtual. Networking 2.0 is here and it’s all about connection (in both senses!) So we’ve got a good picture of the situation…now, let’s look at some useful advice.
- All the advice that you could have been given: Create quality white papers, post on LinkedIn every day, increase the number of web conferences, webinars, virtual coffee breaks, spam your business network, have a new business card created. These are valid tips, but this isn’t really our message today.
Here are the real pieces of advice we want to give you. We’ll give them to you in a specific order, but after that, it’s up to you whether you follow. Tell us your news.
- Focus on your professional life.
There is no point investing time, money and energy to only realise in the end that in fact… you would like to do something else, be elsewhere, change your job, company, sector. Ask yourself the right questions and don’t be afraid of the answers. It’s your career, you’re free to choose the direction you want to follow. The earlier you make this personal evaluation, the more effective the following step will be.
- Evaluate your information needs
What makes networking effective, is the information that you have or that your entourage can bring. In networking, it’s necessary to be spontaneous and dynamic but not freestyle. Freestyling is really the worst strategy to adopt and we strongly advise against it.
- You make a list before going shopping
Before adding people to your network, make a list!!! This will help you determine what types of profiles you’re interested in and will be beneficial. Progress your networking search by knowing different influential people in your sector or desired sector. By searching for specific profiles, you will also come across unexpected people who will push your career forward in a single bound! List the attributes, jobs, academic careers, relationships, subjects of interest, EVERYTHING. These will be the keywords that will enable you to be effective in your selection. You may also come across people who you get on well with and their forthcoming projects or events. Well, yes, why waste time in the umpteenth conference “hoping” to come across someone who might interest you WHEN you could select the events highlighted by people who really interest you?
- Be yourself!
Do you know who the most important person in your network is? YOU! You are the epicentre, your network gravitates around you and your story. You are a bit like a politician who selects his teams, are people drawn to your personality and potential? Would you choose a leader if you couldn’t identify them (at least partially?). Isn’t that right? We didn’t really want to talk about politics but now we’ve gone down a rabbit hole! But, well, politicians illustrate our point perfectly. It’s difficult to unite around an unknown. It’s difficult to network around an unknown too. Right, now the political digression is over, you can stop wincing. Social networks, notably LinkedIn have seen this shift with discourse more inspired by real life and people’s personalities for this reason. We like, we follow what we know or what resonates with us.
- Create your personalised strategy
Your communication and network strategy must also be based on this. Network but in your style. Choose the networking methods that fit with your values and personality. Use all the tools available to you, whether that be attending events, exhibitions, training sessions, publishing posts on LinkedIn, direct approaches, etc. There are so many options and the combinations are endless!
And a final word: Make, Evaluate, Do, Be, Create, note our use of action verbs? Don’t worry, we’re not about to get poetical! We just want to reiterate that networking is something practical that requires you to be proactive! Get out there and look for the opportunities and people that you need to develop your career.