Based on my understanding of networking and some of the things I have learnt over the years; here are my tips:
- Get stuck in and attend 'relevant' events; for my career this includes RICS Matrics and CIOB Novus, both networks for young people and new entrants to the surveying and construction professions.
- Networking is not only about attending an event or meeting, it's about cultivating relationships which are underpinned by trust and honestly, which takes time.
- I refer myself as a 'catalyst networker' as I often connect people together to solve 'a problem'. What can you offer someone for them to be interested in learning more from you. Over the past 5 years I have built a strong, global network based on advice from my own experience. In turn, I have helped thousands of young people across the world. It's no secret that I've leveraged technology and the media to turn up the volume to grow my professional network.
- Face to face networking is as important as social networking; vice versa. You can easily become a key board activist, but remember nothing can beat the power of physical interaction. For me LinkedIn is the way forward, if you're not on LinkedIn you're already behind... times are changing, embrace the now.
- When networking, have a purpose and/or reason, otherwise you can spend years and years talking and 'grabbing coffees' but not really achieving much. For me networking is important to continue learning, sharing experience and ideas and building my social professional brand.
- I use LinkedIn as a diary and my profile is testament to that. Not only do I add my connections after meeting them, but I post 'relevant' content which adds value to my followers. In turn, I am instantly recognised across my network globally. For me this is important.
- I am a huge advocate of helping others, and this is infectious. I respond to over 50 messages a day, tailored to the person. Irrespective whether I get anything out of it or not, I'm building trust and people can rely on me. I see the opportunities in doing things, rather than the obligation and this approach has helped me win the hearts of many. Build strong relationships through your approach, and it will open doors in your professional and personal life. At the time of doing something, you will not find any gratification. Over time, someone you help may eventually become a client, stakeholder or investor!
There is no one shoe fits all approach to networking. Be yourself, smile and engage in good conversation and discussion. Be persistent yet professional as this is important when building the initial stages of your network. The last thing you want to do is be labelled as that 'annoying guy'!
I don't like following a stereotype or following strict governance; I take an innovative approach to career progression and networking which in turn separates me from my peers, age group and colleagues. Being committed, passionate and finding fulfilment in what I do makes me want it more.