How Can I Build My Network?

by Regan & Dean

Whether you’re a Job Hunter or an Employer, it is a good idea to build a strong, professional network. It will benefit you now, and be of particular use when you are looking for a new role in Events or Marketing.  

In the case of job hunters, a good network will give you access to a range of different employers; people who may alert you to opportunities they’ve heard about, and the opportunity to learn from marketing or events ‘gurus’ and experienced professionals. It can also give you a better understanding of the current market, and future market challenges and opportunities.

Employers also benefit from networking, as it can be a way of getting leads, gaining useful referrals, recruiting good people, finding relevant suppliers and finding out about competitors and new innovations in their sector.

For everyone, networking is a great way to meet new like-minded people, learn from them and share ideas, and develop new friendships. 

If you’re wanting to build a successful career,  then it’s good to have network building as a key part of that plan. These are some common ways to build your network.  

Attend Events

One of the most common types of networking is attending events. At networking events, you can speak to people on a one-to-one basis and as part of groups, which can provide you with useful contacts. Many networking events will also have key speakers, who will share useful knowledge of your industry. Organisations such as the Chartered Institute of Marketing organise many local events, so you are bound to find one near you. You can also find networking events in your local area by searching on Google, sites such as ‘Meetup’ and Facebook events.

Don’t be too pushy at these events. One of the best tips for networking events is to approach them looking for ways to help people. In this way you’ll create a positive impression and won’t be the person everyone avoids at the next event. 

Join a professional course

Studying a course related to your profession can do more than simply develop your skills. You’ll mix with people in similar professions and from similar backgrounds. If you’re looking for the next move in your career they might well know of opportunities within their companies - and often they’ll be able to give you advanced warning and the inside story.                                                   

Connect on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a well known and very powerful tool to use for the purpose of networking and making connections. You can connect with those in your industry, such as marketing or events management, and even arrange to meet up to discuss what you are looking for. 

Join Groups

On Facebook and LinkedIn, there is also the option to join groups and this can be a useful way to build your network. There are more than two million specialist LinkedIn discussion groups so finding like-minded people to discuss topics of interest is not that difficult. There are groups which are specific to each industry and those which are more general for advice and support. These can be useful for making contacts who might help in your future career. Joining groups can also increase your visibility, which can help support your future success.

And don’t forget groups in the real world too. Most professional bodies have special interest groups, and there are numerous other opportunities to meet well connected people, ranging from charity boards and your local golf club to trade associations and residents’ groups. 

Choose those you get involved with carefully - it’s important to make a contribution to society, but if a primary objective is to make new professional contacts, make sure the group is attended by people who will add value to your network. 

Follow on Twitter

Many professionals also use Twitter as a way to promote their business and to find useful contacts. Use the search facility on Twitter to find opinion leaders and others who are in your target market and connect with them. As well as gaining knowledge and insight into your industry, you can also find out about events in your local area.

Always carry your business cards

You never know when an opportunity might arise, even a night out at the pub could offer the chance to connect with someone on a professional basis. It is important to have your business cards with you, otherwise you might lose out on a potential client or someone who may be able to offer you advice and support. Giving your details in a professional way will reflect a professional approach.  

So one of the key lessons to learn is to treat every encounter as a potential to expand your network and even develop a few lifetime friends.

In summary, network building is a really important aspect of most careers, expanding your mind, your knowledge, your contacts, and ultimately your opportunities! Try to engage regularly (ideally weekly or monthly)  in some form of network building to really reap the rewards.