The simple word ‘networking’ used to freak me out! Being pushed that far outside my comfort zone and talk to people I had never met? No thanks! I did anything to avoid it in fact.
You’re probably thinking for a Marketing and BD Manager this is odd, granted, but it’s not something they teach you at school, college, university… only when you start working is it brought to the table. When you’re first starting out in your career, there are so many other elements to take on board, or it’s not offered, but times have very much changed.
Fast forward 6+ years, networking doesn’t scare me, in fact I quite enjoy it now. It certainly hasn’t happened quickly, honestly, it’s taken me years to come around to it, but by having the support of the team I work for/with, including being chucked in the deep end a couple of times, finding my feet, voice, and style, and receiving positive feedback, it became naturally easier.
Your personal brand and professional brand need to align, which means always be yourself! You won’t gel with everyone but what you learn is that you only want to gel with those you have things in common with. The bottom line: it’s about long lasting, honest relationships which can also lead to friendships. Some of the people I have met through networking are now friends because we have similar values, interests, work ethics etc… that’s what it’s about, meeting people who make a positive impact and difference to each other’s work lives and personal lives.
I would not refer work to someone I didn’t know personally, and I would not work with someone who hadn’t been referred to me by someone I trust and know personally.
Simple tips for getting started in networking:
- Go with a friend/colleague to begin with if you feel that would help
- So many networking events are now online, it’s a brilliant way to dip your toe in the water as they say, much less scary!
- Look at the different events that are available, what interests you, what aligns with you and your role?
- Give it a try and find out first-hand what it’s like on zoom or in person
- They don’t all have to be core business related, it’s nice to mix it up, try peer events, you will learn so much, get new ideas and gain more confidence
My advice, if you’re given the opportunity, get involved. Whilst qualifications, experience and business skills are important, so are personal skills, finding/having your own style is what makes you, you and differentiates you, in fact more so than ever before – being able to have conversations and talk to people in a range of industries, sectors, backgrounds will only make for a positive personal and professional experience.
If you would like to discuss or have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and if you go for it, let me know how you get on.