Networking can be a very powerful facilitator of career progression, but how do we know whether we are networking resourcefully?
To help our community learn more about the best networking methods, we recently held a breakfast panel discussion in June around “How to network effectively,” sponsored by Moo and Sprinklr. Two of our board members were joined by two industry heavyweights who have many years of seasoned networking experience und their belt. On the panel (from left to right):
- Eniko Tarkany-Szucs, DevelopHer board member and Solutions Consultant at Sprinklr
- Sophie Dermaux, DevelopHer board member and Senior Account Executive at Hotwire PR, who was chairing this discussion
- Hannah Mirza, Global Head of Partnerships at Mediacom
- Kata Bleyer, a digital leader with a background at Coca-Cola and AllSaints
We were reminded that networking isn’t just about getting to know new people – it’s also about benefitting from existing connections, co-workers and hobbies. Below we’ve outlined five actionable networking tips that emerged from the discussion.
- Have a game plan
This applies to attending networking events. Kata Bleyer recommended: “Be prepared. Do your homework and think of some talking points beforehand.“
Prior to the event: Read the attendee list and identify interesting people. Then check out their LinkedIn profiles to see what their interests might be. Use this information to plan some conversation points.
At the event: When it comes to approaching a person that you have planned to speak to, Eniko Tarkany-Szucs advised that you shouldn’t be worried about coming off as overbearing. Simply walk over and start talking to them. After all, “Everyone has the same struggles. Making the first step to talk to someone feels intimidating, but is easier once you actually do it.”
After the event: Kata mentioned that she swears by her ‘little black book’, which she uses to remember people she has met. Keep track of whom you’ve met, along with a line or two about what was interesting about them, and follow up after the event.
- Use LinkedIn as your personal website
Our panellists all agreed that LinkedIn is a great tool for networking. Hannah Mirza pointed out that you should leverage LinkedIn regardless of whether you are looking for a new job or not: “Don’t just use [LinkedIn] as a CV – use it as your own personal website.” Our panellists’ main tips:
- Make sure all of your information is always up-to-date.
- Write articles about topics for which you have specialised knowledge or passionate opinions.
- Delete rewards that you earned a long time ago, if you haven’t received any new ones since – no one will be interested in rewards from ten years ago, for instance.
- Mingle with your co-workers
The relationships you have with co-workers can have a significant impact on your career. To really benefit, you need to do more than just get to know people in your immediate team. Hannah Mirza noted, “You can only get so far if you focus on your immediate sphere. Go out and talk to people in other departments.”
Knowing what people in other departments do, and being able to ask them for help, can go a long way. So-called informal networks form when people from different parts of an organisation connect, and research has found that these networks can have an extensive impact on performance and innovation.
Hannah shared an example of a colleague of hers, who set out to network across the business as soon as she started her new job. This helped her settle in quicker and be promoted faster.
How can you get to know other people in your company better? Hannah’s tip was to simply approach people you haven’t met yet, and ask them if they’d like to grab lunch with you. If they can’t do lunch on that day, just put a date in the diary for another day.
- Get active
Our panellists pointed out that networking doesn’t just happen at networking events or in the office. Many work discussions also take place outside of work, and being part of those conversations can be very beneficial.
Find a hobby that you enjoy, and which you can do together with colleagues or at which you can meet other relevant people. Often, these can be sporting events. Kata Bleyer’s hobby is cycling, and she shared with us that attending cycling events has been great for networking.
- Nurture existing relationships
So you’ve made lots of great connections through work and through your networking efforts – don’t forget to nurture them. One piece of advice that came out of our discussion was to look back every few months and get in touch with people whom you haven’t seen in a while. A quick catch-up coffee is a great way to nurture a relationship and to find out what your network is up to.
We’d like to thank everyone who attended the event and our generous sponsors Moo and Sprinklr. If you missed this event and would like to come along to our next events, sign up to our newsletter and we’ll keep you in the loop.
If you’d like to speak at one of our next events, please sign up to our speakers list.
Written by Anna Abrell