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6 ways to enjoy networking

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Barbara Biog By Barbara Nixon

Thinking back to when I was in a corporate role I can count on one hand the number of networking events that I went to…in fact that’s probably a lie as the more I think about it I actually don’t think I went to any.

Sure, I went to events that were organised by the company, but I don’t think I ever went to any of my own accord as to be honest I just didn’t see the need.

I had two small children, and I was busy. I worked a full day and the last thing I really wanted to do after work was go and mingle with people I didn’t know. All I really wanted to do was go home and get all the things I needed to get done there before grabbing a minute to myself.

Then came the day when I suddenly became aware that I was paying to be a member of a Chartered Institute and I realised that as part of this membership included events, I hadn’t been making the most of the membership at all.

So, rather than just jump in and cancel I decided to go a long to a couple of the events to see whether there was anything that I had been missing…and boy did I get a shock. The events were full of lovely people, with a really interesting guest speaker and a great cuppa as well. In fact I went away thinking I should’ve been making the most of this for ages.

But the thing is, I’d not really paid much attention to the benefits of networking before. I’d always had loads of excuses like…I’m busy, I don’t have time, I don’t need to network, isn’t networking just for people who run their own businesses?

But in actual fact networking is important for everyone. It’s so easy to get stuck in our comfort zone in our role or our company, and it’s so easy to only network with the people you work with. But networking events not only offer the chance to meet new people and learn from them, it’s also a great way of developing ourselves from the guest speakers and to learn great practice outside of our organisation.

So, if you’re struggling with how to network here are a few tips that worked for me

  1. Pick a time of day that suits you

There are networking events that happen at all times of the day from breakfast, lunch and evening, so pick a time of day that works for you and your schedule. If you’re worried about how you can fit it into your working day mention to your manager how it’ll benefit you and the team.

  1. Pick an event that’s closely related to your industry

There are networking events on so many topics so take your time to pick the one that’s right for you, and will give you the most value. If you’re already paying for membership to an institute like I was double check to see if they run events in your area.

  1. When you get there, chat to people

It’s so easy to get to an event, grab a coffee and sit in a corner looking at your phone, especially if it’s not something that comes easily to you. Instead try and force yourself to chat to someone. Chances are they’ll be feeling the same.

  1. Don’t get put off

Even if your first event isn’t as good as you expected don’t get put off. Instead just draw a line under it and go to another to see if that’s any better.

  1. Connect with people you meet on-line or follow up with an email or coffee

Networking is all about building relationships so make sure you follow up with people you’ve met after the event. It might be something simple like sending them a quick e-mail to connecting on Linkedin. You never know where it might lead.

  1. Start your CPD Log

As you go to more events consider starting your own CPD Log (Continuous Professional Development) to keep a record of just what you’ve learnt and how you’re going to use it. This might come in handy if you’re going for a new role or promotion or just to see how far you’ve come for your own benefit.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on networking and great tips that you’ve got to share. Let me know by popping on over to Facebook

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