As a relative “newbie” to recruitment in the Block Management industry, the prospect of attending the inaugural ARMA Ace Awards was both exciting and daunting. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to attend as a guest of platinum sponsors Verto HR plus the rest of the Block Recruit team who, fortunately, happen to know just about everybody in the industry.
Also, as kind of an introvert, I find it a genuine challenge to waltz up to a stranger and start chatting away and I feel that this may not apply just to me; as it’s not the most natural thing in the world to start doing. Unless your name is Alice Cadfan-Lewis of course. So that's why I felt compelled to share a few tips that people have been kind enough to share with me.
Firstly, if you are off to attend your first networking event it is important to know who you may be seeing there. How can you do this? Obviously - LinkedIn. This is such a valuable tool to so many today, even if you are not a lover of social media, it can be great to be part of the LinkedIn community and create helpful, relevant contacts in the industry. Make sure you review the shortlist, sponsors and speakers of any event you will be attending. This way you already have a few people to speak to, a subject to chat about and winners to congratulate (and buy a drink).
That brings me on to content. If like me you are attending an awards event, a lot of people look at this as an opportunity to relax, have an enjoyable time and let loose a little. Not all people necessarily want to spend the evening speaking to you about work and how stressed they are about the recent change in legislation due to the legal battle against doodah and blah blah blah. That’s not to say that you avoid the topic at all costs or change the subject when they bring it up, but you don’t have to make it your prime focus of conversation. At an evening like this you have the chance to speak to people on a completely different level than you usually would at a training session or seminar - so make the most of it, maximise the opportunity. Get to know the person rather than just the job title.
How else can you get the best out of this networking event? Try not to go alone. Try to find someone who has good contacts in the industry to attend with, or if you are going with your colleagues, someone is bound to know someone who they can introduce you to. However, if you have already lined up your knowledgeable introduction buddy, make sure you tell them to introduce you on more than a first name basis.
For example, if you are a newbie and someone introduces you to this great prospective industry contact and says: “Hi, meet Steve.” and leaving it there… That is not helpful. Especially if you have spent hours researching about the 7 different Steve’s that you know will be there. You could be left thinking: “is this Steve the CEO of …?” or “is this Steve the up and coming apprentice at… who is nominated for an award this evening?” Although, I would like to think that perhaps we may be able to use our powers of perception to distinguish between the two.
Moral of the story? See if you can prep your networking buddy to throw in a last name and maybe even a company name if he is feeling generous so as not to leave you in the dark. This will help you to establish some common ground and also aid you with our next subject.
Remember that this is an opportunity for you to meet some great people. But what is the point of meeting these great people if you don’t see or speak to them again? Make sure you get back in touch with the people you meet! Follow up with them, send them an email, friend them on Facebook, connect with them on LinkedIn and do something bird related with them on Twitter.
Apologies for the broad and basic nature of this little missive, however, I hope you have found at least one point which may help you when attending your next industry networking event. Try to relax, prepare well, buddy up with your industry know-it-all and remember; if I can do it, so can you!
Article by: Mike Barlow, Recruitment Consultant, Block Recruit
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