By Catherine Devine, Senior Associate of HannawayCA
The art of networking (and trust me, it is an art!), is defined as “the action or process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts.” To put this in more human terms, networking is simply building and maintaining relationships that are mutually beneficial in the professional world.
The word ‘networking’ can come across as superficial, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s connecting with peers and mentors; it’s gaining invaluable experiences and opportunities and it’s helping others when you have the means to. No matter the type of event, conference, seminar or lunch, networking is an important aspect of growing your career.
Now lets get started into learning how to network;
Attend many networking events and don’t forget those business cards!
First and foremost, attend as many networking events as you can!
The bottom line is, you can’t improve if you’re not there. The first event will be daunting but there’s no harm in bringing along a friendly face to these events. By partnering up and attending events with peer and colleagues, this can help calm any fears or nerves you have. If you don’t have anyone that can attend the event with you, try to keep in might that you’ll probably not be the only person there that has just started networking.
Business cards are immensely important. These cards are how the connections are prolonged and long-term relationships are created. Having your business card on hand, shows that proper planning has been carried out for the day ahead portrays an image of professionalism to those around you.
Networking isn’t just beneficial for your personal career but also for your firm and your business card doesn’t just represent you, it represents your firm. It may well be that your business card is the first time a person has been exposed to your Company.
Listen and be interested in the conversation.
When you have started up a conversation, listen more than you speak yourself- no matter who you’re speaking to, I guarantee you’ll learn something new. Be interested in the conversation rather than simply thinking of something else to say. When you’re genuinely interested, it will come across to the other person and this may just be the ingredient that will led to future discussions with that person.
Be patient- Don’t expect immediate results.
Networking is long term; people can be resistant to change and building relationships will take time. Remember that any conversation can have an impact and every conversation can lead to an opportunity.
Building relationships can take time and effort. In order to maintain a relationship, you need to be frequent with your communication. If you make time for the business or person, they’ll automatically turn to you for their business needs.
There are loads of things you can do to boost your networking, but the key thing is to get yourself out there, push yourself out of your comfort zone and find the networking style that works for you. Your skills will get your started into the business environment, but your connections help you thrive in your profession.
Our next networking event for Women in Business is on Tue 26th April, at the White Horse Hotel, Derry. Register here!