Part 4 - Growing your Network
The running theme in part 4 is going to be “remaining professional”. You don’t want to be seen as someone who is very negative, that talks badly of their current or previous employer or a competitor. You want to be professional, the person that others can look up to within the industry. Remember to treat your contractors well because they can be your biggest fans and promoters.
The first option in growing and maintaining your network is doing so online. Social media is a powerful tool and there are so many platforms to choose from:
- LinkedIn is the most professional and business focused.
- Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are more informal and personal.
- Twitter bridges a gap between the above, so it does have a lot of business content but it’s more lighthearted.
The importance of a relevant network - If you’re looking at establishing your online network, it’s important to decide whether to merge your personal account with a work account or keep them separate. You want to make sure you have a relevant network, you don’t want to be spamming your mum with the latest IRPM Technical Update or showcasing your crazy night out to people in the industry, including potential clients. The key is to ensure you are posting relevant content to relevant people. Remain consistent with your postings and have a presence, but make sure you are not over posting and spamming.
Post original content - Don’t just repost and share what others are posting, post original content. Show your personality, spark a discussion, engage in conversations with your network. Comment on other posts and ask for opinions. Remember that people connect with people first! The next option in growing your network is in person. There are many events throughout the year, we have an event’s calendar on the Block Recruit website to help you manage your diary! These include conferences, training days, seminars, awards nights and networking drinks.
Be at events in spirit - You can also use social media when networking in person. If you’re at an awards dinner or conference, you can remain in the conversation on Twitter, there’s usually a hashtag for each event. If you can’t make an event, social media gives you the power to still be there. Our Director Alice couldn’t make it to the ARMA Ace Awards 2018 which she was gutted about, but she was essentially there in spirit as she was on Twitter, engaging in the conversations and congratulating the winners. Social media is a tool not to be underestimated.
Discuss relevant topics - Much the same as your online networking, you need to be relevant. So, set yourself up for the right events. If you are at a drinks or an awards, you don’t want to just be reeling off facts you’ve memorised online but discussing interesting industry news or perhaps not even work at all! These events are more lighthearted. You want to have fun and enjoy yourself at these events too. A seminar or training day would be more business focused.
Keep things lighthearted - Don’t force your views on others, whilst you can have your own opinion, remember others have one too. Remain open minded. Have a conversation and not an argument. You don’t want to become that pushy person that others avoid at events. They exist, trust us!
Let others talk - Don’t dominate the conversation and take over constantly. Remember what was said, let others talk and pay attention, you could learn something useful. Listening is key!
Follow up and keep in touch - One of the reasons you’re at these events is to build a network, so once you’ve made new connections, maintain them! Follow up and keep in touch. Follow new connections on social media and continue to build on the relationship you’ve established.
Mutual connections and new introductions - Keep in mind that the people that you’re talking to now have their own network too. As we’re always saying, it’s a very small industry. The connections of the person you’ve just met, could become your connections in turn. So, remain professional, be interesting and others will want to introduce you to their contacts.
Bring your tools - If you’re networking face to face, remember to bring plenty of business cards, that way the people that you meet can follow up with you as well. If you haven’t got any business cards, ask others for theirs. Taking theirs ensures you can make the follow-up contact happen, don’t rely on others to make the first move. Also, remember to dress appropriately. This might sound like common sense but it’s important and will have an impact on peoples’ impressions of you. At seminars and conferences dress more formally in business wear, awards events are black tie so they’re a great excuse to get dressed up and the networking drinks are more informal.