As an individual progresses through their career, it’s often the case that in order to be promoted or develop their career they choose (or are asked) to start networking.
Examples of networking:
Attending a trade event
A CPD session organised by a discipline-specific member organisation, for example, the RICS, RIBA or CIOB
Being invited to attend an awards ceremony with guests
Structured Business to Business networking via Teams / Zoom
To get to know clients & potential clients
To develop business relationships
To develop a support network of a wide range of different professionals
To increase awareness of you and your company
To keep up to date with what’s going on in your industry
As a recruiter with 15 + years experience, and as a Director of the Forum for the Built Environment (a national not-for-profit organisation focused on networking within the built environment that produces a document called ‘A Guide to Networking’), here are a few suggestions as to best practice when networking, whatever the setting:
Listen! It’s a cliché, but we have two ears and one mouth, using them in this ratio and being attentive will show people that you have a genuine interest in them.
Remember all events will be made up of both experienced and inexperienced networkers. A good networker makes everyone feel welcome and is inclusive.
Be confident you can add value. Most people in the room will have a business-critical issue that they would like to discuss. Advice (if asked for!) will help to develop relationships and goodwill; people will want to meet you again.
Remember that everyone you meet is human, and will have interests outside of work, so if appropriate engage with them on a personal level and talk about hobbies, current affairs, etc
Remember you are always networking (whether at the registration desk, getting a drink, or waiting for a presentation to start).
Review the list of attendees in advance (if possible) so that you can work out who you would like to meet.
Smile and enjoy!