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Skills for Success: 5 ways to be a confident networker

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 04 Mar 2024

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Our new Skills for Success series shares quick tips to build your professional skills. First, we learn how to network, whether online or in-person, with confidence.

1. Have a strategy

Form a clear idea about what you want to take away from an event before you attend. Research the companies or people you’re going to meet so you have questions or thoughts to contribute. Is there anyone in particular you want to talk to? Contact them beforehand with an introductory email or via LinkedIn, and it will be easier to approach them at the event.

2. Project confidence

Look the part. Dress appropriately and you’ll feel more prepared. Body language is important, too, so make eye contact. And while it’s natural to feel a bit wobbly when meeting new people, be aware of your worth. What are your specialities and interests? As someone starting out, you may not feel like you have much to offer, but you have fresh perspectives, enthusiasm, and know-how. Prepare some ice breakers or conversation pieces and practise on your friends and family. If you believe in yourself, then others will too.

3. Stay engaged

Remember to listen and respond thoughtfully to what others are saying, but don’t push an agenda when you’ve only just met someone. The good news is that hybrid ways of working offer more opportunities for beginners to make their mark: in the virtual world it’s much easier to interact with individuals further up the hierarchy, so seize your chance. Write a blog; join a webinar and ask questions; post your thoughts on LinkedIn, and invite people you respect and admire to connect.

4. Follow up

Take time to strengthen relationships. Follow up on encounters with a friendly thank you for their time and, if appropriate, an invitation to meet again, whether that’s a quick Teams meeting or a coffee. If you reach out to people via social media, such as LinkedIn, put a note in the invitation to remind the contact of where you met. 

5. Be patient

When it comes to successful networking, it’s quality not quantity that counts. Don’t always be chasing the next contact. Set aside time each day to check your profiles and respond to any comments or messages. And remember, it’s a slow burn. You won’t always get immediate results, but eventually your efforts will be rewarded.

Begin your networking journey by getting involved with your local ICAEW student society, including joining a local event near you.

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