‘Networking’ – How do I do it!?
Hi there! I hope everyone has been staying warm and enjoying the snow! I had some time off work to attend lectures at UCL, and used the snow as an excuse to laze around all weekend. My lazing was somewhat productive though, as I figured out the topic for this blog post: NETWORKING.
Honestly, I find the word ‘Networking’ scary! I never really know what it entails, and what I am supposed to do during a networking event. At the Welcome Event in September, and at pretty much any graduate scheme related event, we are all encouraged to network with our peers and to develop connections. Unfortunately I am horrendous at small talk, and the idea of chatting to someone about the weather makes me cringe. So for me, networking is pretty much my idea of torture.
However, as I have progressed with my graduate scheme journey, I have picked up some tips that I use when I am put in a networking situation, and I thought I would share a couple with you!
1). Everyone is in the same boat!
I do think I neglected this tip a lot during the Welcome Event and the first few weeks of the scheme. However I started to realise that I wasn’t the only super nervous person in the room, and I used this advantage to scope out opportunities to chat to people. I usually start conversation with the normal ‘So, what specialism are you doing?’ and then somehow this sparks conversation and I end up getting to find out what people did for a living before the scheme, whether or not they went on a gap year, and what TV shows they are currently interested in!
2). Forget the word ‘networking’ and focus on making friends.
Networking sounds totally professional – and it is – but sometimes it is just a fancy way of describing ‘getting to know someone’. This helps me to relax a bit and to focus on genuinely getting to know someone and building a relationship with them. After all, I feel more comfortable asking friends for favours than colleagues.
3). You don’t need to be networking to develop a network.
I recently had an ‘Action Learning Set’ with a few other trainees, and one of the things I learnt from the set is just how many connections I have. I was able to pass on contacts to trainees in order to help them achieve their tasks. Most of the contacts I shared were fellow colleagues from my placement, or people I had done my orientation with. I didn’t have a networking event with these contacts, but I had developed connections with them in my every day role. Sometimes it is easy to panic after a networking event and to think ‘I didn’t really make any headway today’ or so on, but most of the connections we make are probably in our daily roles or through others!
I’m sure there are many more tips out there if you browse on Google, but these are the ones I have found important to me! I hope they have helped! Good luck!