For those of us who don’t belong to the ‘old boy’s network’ we need to forge our own networks.
Who you know can increase career opportunities exponentially. We invited women to practice and develop their networking skills at a structured Speed Networking event last night in Westminster. The intention was to put into practice skills in a safe environment while actually building upon existing networks. Attendees ranged from women in media, politics, law, charity, public sector, consultancy, academia and beyond.
Progressive Women’s very own Lucy James was our keynote speaker, and she told her story of how networking has spurred her career on. She explained how she secured a new job through a contact she had met networking. She also spoke of her experience having to build her knowledge and networks fast when she starting working in a new industry.
Lucy’s tips included:
Before you get there
- Know who will be there before you go – ask for a guest list. Or when you arrive look at the nametags
- Research a line in advance — find out about the book/host — an interesting fact.
- Always have cards with you (– and make sure they’re your cards!).
- Be energised – better to stay for an hour and meet lots of people than be the last one there in the corner.
- Pick the easy ones off first – people who are on their own – they will be very grateful
- If you don’t know anyone head to the drinks table – break down of group environment
- Try not to worry about standing on your own.
- Interrupt people – the point of a networking event is to talk to lots of people – hover at edge of groups and introduce yourself.
- Don’t get stuck in a group and if you do don’t worry about being rude. It is fine to say ‘I better go and mingle’.
- Remember their name and say “it was really nice to meet you, Caroline” etc.
- Have something interesting to say so people remember you.
- Don’t just talk about work. Don’t be one-dimensional and work-focused. Talk about your interests.
- Sell yourself – women tend to undersell themselves
- Keep it light-hearted – crack jokes.
- Hold a drink – look more relaxed
- Show an interest in people. Find out about them by asking questions.
- Enjoy yourself — meet new people don’t worry about people being “useful” in immediate future
- Be yourself.
- Always follow up in the morning.
- Keep in touch with people – casual email with links to articles, blogs, events etc.