Depending on your profession, your role may make it easy for you to network with colleagues in your company and form contacts in other businesses. However, for more isolated departments networking may be more challenging.
With business partnering and commercial skills becoming highly desirable to employers, being visible within your organisation and getting yourself noticed is more important to achieving career progression than ever.
Start face to face
The most effective way to begin expanding your circle is through conventional, face to face networking.
The more people you connect with and the more they know about you and what you do, the easier it will be to foster good working relationships and expand your professional development.
While many professionals are not entirely at ease in networking situations, these three simple tips can help you get noticed.
First of all, consider how you fit into your organisation. Think about your role, what the scope of your job might be and where have the potential to make professional connections. This will depend on the size and structure of the company.
Ask yourself the following questions; who do I work with most? Which other teams/ individuals would I get value out of working with? Who do I not know much about?
Reaching out to these colleagues through team building exercises, charity days, company sports teams and team social events are all easy ways to get to know your colleagues; the more you make yourself involved, the easier it will become
Join formal networking groups
Many fields lend themselves to knowledge and expertise sharing and there are a huge range of groups dedicated to just this.
Meeting professionals outside of your organisation can be a fantastic avenue for staying abreast of trends and meeting key influencers within the field.
Trade magazines and professional organisations are the best place to start as they tend to run regular events which you can attend, often free of charge.
Make contact with your graduate or alumni groups as a great way to stay connected to the greater industry.
Social media is a great way to connect with others in the industry. Look for interest groups on LinkedIn, these offer a platform to share views and discuss trends with other professionals.
Regard networking as an investment
With networking, the more time and effort you invest, the better returns you can expect to see. While it may seem tricky to begin with, remember that other professionals are there for the same reason.
Important opportunities can present themselves at unexpected times. Open yourself up to professional exchanges, and you will find more opportunities for career advancement.