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The importance of networking

by Adam Rouse | 3 August 2015

Since I started a career in recruitment I have really come to realise how networking can play an important part in career success. The web has made it easier than ever to connect and maintain contact with useful connections, but it's still not a substitute for building relationships in a more traditional, face-to-face manner. 

Prior to my career in recruitment, I couldn't imagine anything worse than spending time socialising with potential clients and candidates as I found it an intimidating prospect and I remember being quite nervous for my first event. However, after a couple of hours at the event, I soon realised that it provided me with invaluable opportunities to meet both candidates and clients and to form a great relationship. If you are thinking about going to a networking event, and feel intimidated, anxious and nervous, here are my top tips to help you network more confidently and effectively.

1. Use existing contacts - if you have inside contacts at the event, make sure you use them. Ask for personal introductions wherever possible as it is much easier to meet new connections through a mutual contact

2. Have a clear focus - go to an event with a clear purpose and maybe even set yourself some loose targets. Perhaps aim to speak to three potential new clients or to someone from a particular organisation

3. Be bold and go alone - although it can be preferable to attend events as part of a group or with a colleague, this can sometimes be inhibiting. You may feel more comfortable sticking with people you know, but it may prevent you from branching out and talking to other people or even make you less easy to approach

4. Good body language- be aware of your body language. Do you appear open, approachable and ready to engage with people? Folding your arms and avoiding eye contact will certainly make you appear closed and inaccessible, so make sure you're giving off friendly, positive vibes in the way you carry yourself

5. Break the ice - don't wait for people to approach you, get out there and introduce yourself in an assertive, but friendly manner. Make sure you have your 'elevator pitch' (i.e. a short summary about what you do, your business etc.) at the forefront of your mind so you can quickly and easily engage people in conversation. 

6. Give and take - good networking is all about mutual interest and mutual benefit. Make sure you are genuinely listening and responding to the people you meet rather than talking at them. Work out what you could do for them as well as what they could do for you and help make other introductions where you can.

If you would like to more tips and advice on networking, or if you would like to hear about my networking story at a recent NHS event, please feel free to contact me in the office on 01782 572 700 or via email adam.rouse@sellickpartnership.co.uk