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How to network at an event?

(4 Posts)
cheerup Tue 25-Feb-14 14:26:34

I have signed up for an event run by a recruitment consultancy in conjunction with the professional body for the profession I am studying to join. I currently work part-time in an unrelated field but would like to make the move into a related role soon. The format of the event is drinks, presentations, q&a, networking and I want to go to sound out & hopefully improve my chances of securing a relevant role while I continue my studies.

I am (ahem) 40 and have not exactly pushed myself career-wise since turning 30, preferring to focus on my family. However, I am now committed to this as a new career path and really want to make the most of this opportunity.

Any tips? I'm not shy and am used to managing people and leading team meetings etc but the idea of networking makes me cringe. I also feel somewhat embarrassed that despite having progressed well in my career from graduation to 30, I've not exactly put my self out workwise since having a family and worry that I won't be taken seriously.

woodrunner Tue 25-Feb-14 23:04:03

Best tip I was ever given, by a business guru type, was to look for ways you can help others not vice versa. When you chat, aim to find a genuine connection with three to five people. Doesn't matter what it is that you can do for them, though if it is a work connection that can enhance their career - that's ideal. But people can be just as keen to find a good builder/school etc. You still make an impression if you can offer help in a professional, polite way. It could just be the name of a good restaurant in a town they're visiting or a link to an interesting article.

Doesn't have to be work related, so long as it demonstrates your ability to be organised, discerning, helpful, approachable etc - whatever skills you need to promote in yourself, use them when you are being helpful. And it's a legitimate way of getting in touch afterwards, as you can follow up with a link or forward an address etc. It's about being remembered and being noticed in a favourable light. Be career minded about this and aim to make these contacts with the people you most want to connect with.

Going into networking with your ears open to what you can offer others rather than what you can get from them takes all the stress out of it, so you will come over as relaxed and energetic and likeable. Once you've offered the help and made a strong connection, move on as quickly as you politely can and make another connection. Don't glue yourself to one small group of people.

If you've helped others, you may feel bolder about going up to someone and asking for their help or advice too. Or asking someone you've connected with if they are able to introduce you to a potential employer who's at the event.

And have business cards ready to pass people. Not everyone likes to have to key details into their phone straightaway.

MrsMargoLeadbetter Wed 26-Feb-14 09:21:00

I agree with wood think about it what you can offer them.

Shake hands firmly. I saw a headhunter talk once about how some women don't offer a hand and it can leave men not knowing what to do, so they go in for a kiss on the cheek when that isn't always the right approach.

Obviously that is more for when you have met before (!) but it did strike me that it is important to be assertive and offer a handshake.

Also, work on an elevator pitch version of your career. If you are currently working you can minimise the fact you have been family focused if you don't want them to linger on that point? They only know what you tell them etc.

However for what it is worth I think it is great you are retraining. And 40 isn't old. You have another 25+ years in your new profession grin

If you do talk about your family time, be positive:

"I chose to spend a few years focused on my family. It taught me xxxx. I did work during this time as it was important for me to keep my hand in. If you did

However, I always wanted to join xxx profession, so I am doing x and y in order to move. I am really excited about the opportunity".

I would also think of lots of questions about your new profession that you can ask peers and recruiters:

- what is the best place to look for jobs?

- what sort of experience is valued by employers?

- what courses that the professional body offers are well regarded/useful?

- are there other networking meetings for the profession that are good?

- what is the next big thing in this profession?

Good luck.

cheerup Wed 26-Feb-14 20:31:40

Brilliant - thank you so much! I have been working locally but not in what I would see as career type roles and not at the level I had reached in my early career and aspire to attain/exceed in the future. That said it has given me a chance to reflect more on where my core skills lie and what I enjoy doing, hence my commitment now to joining and succeeding in this new profession. I'm genuinely excited about the future and enjoying my studies immensely and will do my best to convey as well as asking lots of relevant questions. smile

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