How to build a network
1. Attend events
This is the obvious one. Events give you opportunity to meet lots of people, both formally at specific networking sessions, or informally at drinks afterwards. Use events to meet people in your sector, or in the sector you’d like to work in. Swap business cards and search for your new contacts on LinkedIn or the ICAEW community.
2. Use social networking websites
Websites such as Facebook and LinkedIn have transformed the way we keep in touch with people. They are also tools to make new contacts and build networks.
The ICAEW community is a friendly place to start. You can add a profile, connect with peers and participate in the forums. It’s easy to use and free.
- make contacts by interacting with people in the forum
- quiz our expert bloggers on career-related issues
- search for people to add to your network
LinkedIn is widely used by the professional community. It’s also a sensible alternative to giving your boss access to your Facebook page.
- use it to stay in touch with business contacts
- get recommendations from clients or colleagues
- join groups such as company alumni and specialists such as the London FDs
- show your expertise by answering questions in the Q&A section
- use it to find jobs and advertise your availability
3. Use your contacts
Or more specifically, your contacts’ contacts! Ask people you know to introduce you to their colleagues, clients or business partners. A warm introduction is an endorsement – it can go a long way. Using social networks such as LinkedIn will show you who you have a common link with.
4. Stay in touch
Finally, remember to make lasting contacts. Everyone changes jobs at some point so make sure you have their personal contact details or connect with them online. Don’t lose the opportunity to get a great reference when you need it.
Overcome your fear of networking!
Smoozing. Working the room. For many people, networking has negative connotations. It conjures up images of making awkward small talk with a room full of strangers.
If you have networking demons, or you’re simply shy, try some of the following techniques:
- Think of it simply as ‘making contacts’ or ‘meeting people’, rather than networking.
- Do it online. Networking doesn’t have to involve meeting people in person. Online networks and email are valid networking tools, and introductions can be much easier in cyberspace.
- Don’t go to networking events alone. Take a colleague or friend. Having a friendly face in the room can really help and you can ‘warm up’ by talking to them first.
- Attend speed networking events. There will be more structure, everyone is there to meet others, and there is less chance of being stuck talking to one person.
Still need help? Our expert career coaches can help you build a personalised networking plan. He will teach you how to have effective networking conversations, approach people you don’t know, and how to build your network.
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