The thing with networking is that you’re either a natural at it or it’s something you find very daunting and can feel like a terrible chore. Yes, you know you need to make connections at work and build a strong network within your industry. Yes, you know it can really help your career. It can easily feel like just another frustrating thing to add to your ever growing ‘to do’ list.
The most successful networkers don’t make it an extra thing they have to do, their secret is that they make it part of their everyday social life and make opportunities everywhere they go. By making it a part of socialising it becomes more enjoyable and even relaxing and fun.
So, how can you become a networking master and have fun?
Make the most of work social opportunities - if you only spend time with your colleagues at work or at company events such as team nights out, you will only get to know people on a certain level. To really build a productive network you have to get to know people on a more personal and intimate level and most importantly, let them get to know you and your personality.
We are not advocating being ‘fake’ here, but for you to take the opportunity to build better relationships and communication with co-workers and even your boss. Take time out of your day, at break and lunch times and after work, to grab a drink or a quick bite to eat with people from work, you might find someone who has the same interests as you.
It doesn’t have to be anything planned either, simply having a friendly chat when making a coffee or at the water cooler, works wonders for building your network of useful contacts, gets you known and keeps you informed of all the latest conversations.
Make the most of work corporate and training opportunities - the networks you make at training and corporate events are invaluable. These people who have similar jobs and/or work in similar industries have the potential to become employers, employees, introducers or even customers, so it’s vital that you take any opportunity to build deeper bonds and connections.
Think of any training course you attend as a social networking skills course as well and you won’t go far wrong, it can really make events like these fun. Try to leave having linked up with as many people as you can and at all levels, as more junior people might be more senior next time you meet them.
Make the most out of non-work opportunities - if you just spend your time with work colleagues and then your family and friends outside of work you are missing out on the opportunity to meet and connect with a much wider network in your community.
You never know when you might make that valuable connection, so get involved in groups for people with similar interests. Whilst the groups might not be work related, by getting to know people deeper you will be opening up their network to yourself.
So ask yourself, what are my interests and where can I get involved? You could even start your own group. You never know, you might just meet the next important person in your career and actually have fun at the same time!