‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ was the mantra favoured in the small mining village where I grew up – Grimethorpe in South Yorkshire (you may have heard of the Grimethorpe Colliery Brass Band). I would argue that the only logical answer to this statement is to say ‘well, in that case I’m going to get to know them’.
With this in mind, here are a few tips to widen your network and how to make the most of existing contacts.
- Attend Industry Events and Conferences – These provide opportunities to meet like-minded professionals, potential mentors, and industry leaders. You can also stay updated on the latest trends and innovations in your field, which can enhance your knowledge and career prospects.
- Join Professional Associations and Groups – Membership of industry-specific associations offers access to a built-in network of professionals who share common interests and goals. These groups often provide resources, job postings, and educational opportunities that can boost your career.
- Social Media – Platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and industry-specific forums allow you to connect with professionals worldwide, expanding your reach. You can also engage in discussions, share your expertise, and showcase your work, increasing your visibility and credibility.
- Volunteer – Volunteering at events, becoming a school governor, joining a voluntary group or 3rd sector organisation demonstrates your commitment and expertise, making you a valuable connection.
- Attend Workshops or Seminars – These activities often facilitate small group interactions, fostering deeper relationships with fellow attendees.
- Seek advice – Seeking advice from professionals in your desired field can provide insights and potentially lead to job referrals. People like to share their knowledge and will be flattered that you’re asking for their advice.
- Get to Know Your Competitors – When I originally started working for a training organisation, my boss used to say ‘don’t talk to them, they’re competitors’. You can work with competitors as well as compete against them as long as there’s trust between you, there are often chances to jointly bid for work and share advice and experiences. We have had long-standing and productive partnerships with lots of people and companies such as www.premierpartnership.co.uk and www.brookconsult.co.uk
- Help People – This is vital and will show that you’re not just there to use others; it will also make you feel valued and help to build your confidence and self-esteem.
Incorporating these networking strategies into your routine can lead to a diverse and powerful network, offering benefits such as career growth, knowledge enrichment, support, and potential job opportunities. It’s important to remember that when you’re networking, not everything is about selling, if you’re seen as being pushy it can be a turn-off for people and they’ll not seek to engage with you. Be genuine, help people, enjoy people and remember, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know so go ahead and get to know them!