Want to know the best networking activities to boost your career?
Boost your career through networking
When I talk with my clients about networking, they often describe the terror they experience as they enter a room full of strangers and awkwardly try to network. But I’m quick to reassure them that networking has changed a lot over the years. Networking no longer needs to be the horrifying and daunting task they’ve feared for so long.
The growth of online networking along with the creation of fun networking events has had a positive impact on networking. There is a networking activity to suit everyone, no matter how shy or lacking in confidence you might be.
I like to view networking as an opportunity to connect, learn and develop. Viewed in this way, networking becomes far less fearsome and much more fun. Now that’s got to be better than anxiousness, sweaty palms and panic attacks right?
Here’s my top 10 networking activities you can start working on today to help boost your career:
Professional networking sites
Specialist professional networking websites such as LinkedIn have become invaluable tools and should be part of every professional’s networking arsenal. With over 700 million users in more than 200 countries globally, you’d struggle to find a bigger network than LinkedIn.
A free account takes little time to set up and can see you beginning to grow your network in no time at all. Complete your professional profile, add a photo and you’re all set to begin your LinkedIn networking journey. If you get lost, don’t be afraid to ask someone for help to get yourself up and running on LinkedIn.
Webinars and Seminars
Attending webinars or seminars is a great way to increase your knowledge on specific topics whilst growing your network. Arrive early to mingle and meet people to a face to face event or connect with people via the chat function of online webinars. Attending TED Talks is a great way to meet people who share similar interests to your own and often attracts business owners and professionals alike.
The aim of professional exhibitions is to bring businesses and potential customers together. They may or may not be open to the general public so you might need to get an invite or attend on a specific day when entry conditions allow for general entry. Professional exhibitions provide the ideal environment to make valuable in-person connections and to learn about niche markets.
Are a great way to meet like-minded professionals. Regardless of whether the training is face to face or online, you will usually have the chance to interact with and get to know your fellow learners.
Professional or trade associations
Each sector has a professional or trade association which represents the interests of those who work in that field. Activities vary but usually becoming a member enables you to participate in face to face and virtual networking events, professional development activities, conferences/trade shows etc.
Typically made up of talks, stalls and workshops, conferences provide lots of opportunities for you to make connections with other professionals. Many conferences offer the opportunity to be added to a networking contact list so that you can connect with attendees after the event.
Chambers of Commerce
There is likely to be a chambers of commerce in your town or region whose aim is to support and bring together local businesses. Chambers of Commerce run regular networking events, produce a weekly or monthly newsletters and may host its own online forum where members can stay connected.
University Alumni groups
Joining your university’s alumni group is a great way to stay in the loop of what’s happening in your sector. Alumni groups usually have an active community who keep in touch through organised social, networking or CPD activities. If you haven’t already been invited to your university’s alumni group, get in touch with your university to find out what steps you need to take to join.
Breakfast networking clubs
There are countless business breakfast networking clubs popping up everywhere aimed at bringing local businesses together (over breakfast obviously). This can be a great way to build your network if you are moving into self-employment or becoming a freelancer. Try Business Over Breakfast
Investing your time and expertise in volunteering will automatically widen your network. Your contribution doesn’t have to be a substantial one in terms of hours or days per week. There are many organisations that require support that might need a commitment of just a few hours a month. Aside from growing your network, it enhances your CV and just as importantly, gives you a sense that you are giving something back. To search for volunteering opportunities try Do It and Volunteering England.
To get started, why not commit to trying out two or three of these networking activities in the next month?
Do you have any other networking ideas? Want to share your networking success story? Feel free to comment below.