Building networks with confidence
Networking can be very important for career and business development, but some people find it difficult, even though the rewards can be worth it. RSM’s Emma Milgate offers some tips for those who want to build new connections.
Networking is an interesting and challenging way to make new connections. While some relish the prospect, others dread it. I used to fall into the latter, for a variety of reasons. But now I look forward to meeting and getting to know new people.
My historic dread came from feeling awkward when speaking to new people; what do you talk about? How do you approach people? How do you get to know people in an established group?
Over the years, I have attended sessions on networking to gain confidence, and these have really helped, as well as simply getting out there and networking. From these experiences, I have identified a few things that help me. These are:
- Most people feel the same way about networking as you
- Aim to make at least two new connections
- Aim to learn something new
- Follow up on any new connections you make to maintain your network
- Start by looking for a small group, or someone on their own with whom to start a conversation
- Don’t interrupt an intense conversation, that won’t go well!
- Just be yourself
The most important thing is to get out there and go to these events. The more you go the easier it becomes.
Now, instead of avoiding networking events I actually look forward to them and get a lot from them. I have met some genuinely interesting people and always come away having learnt something new. I don’t always get it right, but I do go and never regret doing so.
Wherever you are in your career, I would encourage you to go to events, to build your network. As a starting point try a relatively safe environment, for example go to your ICAEW local branch event and give networking a try.
Emma Milgate is an associate director at RSM and a member of ICAEW Chartered Accountants Croydon.
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