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Share your thoughts about professional networking - you could win a £50 voucher or Workfest tickets! NOW CLOSED

(101 Posts)
JustineBMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 04-Apr-16 12:53:06

Workfest 2016 is coming up soon (14th May) and to get us all in the mood, we’d love to hear your thoughts all about professional networking.

So, networking - what do you think? Do you hate small talk? Maybe you struggle with self-esteem and confidence in a professional environment? Or do you bound into professional events and work the room like a pro? How useful do you find sites like LinkedIn? Share your troubles, tips or joys with networking below - we'd love to hear about them, and we'd love to see you at Workfest!

This one-day event is packed to the rafters with advice for women in - or returning to - the workplace, with a range of workshops and one-on-one sessions hosted by self-made entrepreneurs and career experts. It could be just what you need to kick-start your career, as attested to by these Mumsnetters from last year:

"I felt truly inspired and motivated...I have 'the fire in my belly' to move forward and reach my goals."

"The day was much more than I had hoped. I was and still am in awe of the speakers and gained so much positive energy."

"One of the best value conferences I have been to in a long time."

Tickets are available here

Add your comments to this thread and you’ll be entered into a prize draw where one winner will win their choice of a £50 store voucher or a pair of Workfest 2016 tickets.

purplepandas Mon 04-Apr-16 14:15:56

I am rubbish at networking but getting better! I have joined Twitter and that has led to collaboration etc so all good. Small steps for me, I need more confidence.

MyVisionsComeFromSoup Mon 04-Apr-16 15:08:35

I hate it! Everyone is more experienced and more qualified than me (at least it feels like that), and I get all hot and flustered when I talk to people. However, I volunteer each year at a charity conference, and because I'm actually helping people, it makes it a lot easier to chat face to face.

Suppose I just need to get out there and do it, practice making perfect etc.

pillowaddict Mon 04-Apr-16 16:01:22

I hate networking! Consider myself rubbish as I struggle with small talk and hate meeting strangers, and also lack confidence. I sometimes feel like I seem really desperate when I just want to be friendly and open to working together with others. I'd love to know how to do it well!

CopperPan Mon 04-Apr-16 16:06:53

I'm not good at networking at all, I'm an introvert and would rather go through formal processes than these semi-social chats.

confusedandemployed Mon 04-Apr-16 17:01:18

I don't like it at all and see it as a necessary evil. However I don't think I'm too bad at it. I try to make myself go to at least one networking thing each week and I am getting a bit better with practice.

Hopezibah Mon 04-Apr-16 18:03:08

networking is hugely underrated in one way and overrated in another way.

I think true networking i.e. genuinely asking for advice and being genuinely caring and nice to each other and getting together with like-minded people or with a common interest / career focus can help all parties involved. But faking it is just pointless and unsatisfying!

BitOutOfPractice Mon 04-Apr-16 18:15:44

I am fine once I get going. I just hate the first bit, going up to someone and introducing myself. I find that bit toe curlingly awful. Once I've got an "in" I am absolutely great at the chatting bit. And I don't mind asking to go to the next stage (that sounds rude but you know what I mean, meet, exchange cards, connect on social media).

I find LinkedIn extremely useful and have got business through it directly (still waiting to hear about a pitch I did so keep your fingers crossed).

Gazelda Mon 04-Apr-16 19:29:39

I really dread networking. I don't know how to involve myself in a group already chatting, so often try to approach others standing alone. Inevitably we exhaust our networking chit-chat and are eager to move on to another attendee, but it seems rude to say 'thanks but I'm off to find someone else to talk with now'.

A previous manager advised me to go to networking events with one aim
, eg speak with someone else in my profession, or chat to someone I've noted on the attendee list, or give my card to X contact. This tip works for me, as I feel I've spent my time wisely if I achieve my original ambition.

BellaVida Mon 04-Apr-16 20:27:34

I have never felt particularly 'comfortable' networking. I find that doing a bit of research around the attendees and current thinking in your industry really helps.
My only real problem was that in my industry (media/marketing/PR), much of the valuable networking was done over dinners and evening events. When I had my DC, the onus was on me to pick up & care for them in the evenings, so I missed out a lot.

BitOutOfPractice Mon 04-Apr-16 22:02:27

I agree Bellavida. Dane for breakfast meetings. Many of these events seem to assume that you are available 24/7 with no other commitments

voyager50 Mon 04-Apr-16 23:10:51

Networking in person its not something that comes naturally to me and I don't use social media at all so linked In is not for me either.

Sometimes though just chatting to someone in the toilets or lunch queue at an event can actually be even more rewarding than meeting someone formally so I try to make the most of those opportunities!

BitOutOfPractice Tue 05-Apr-16 08:27:05

Voyager i would urge you to give LinkedIn a try. It's not like other social media in that it is entirely professional. You can use it as much or as little as you like and it's s great way to find people you've lost touch with.

HeadTilt Tue 05-Apr-16 08:45:50

I like getting to know people in my field but I'm terrible at stuff like giving out a card, using Linked-In and going cold into networking events! The obvious stuff just makes me cringe..

beesarethebest Tue 05-Apr-16 09:09:31

Networking works if you go into it thinking you'll just make 1-2 really good contacts (as opposed to getting to know all 200 delegates and coming home with 200 business cards of whom 90% you don't care for or will remember!).

I attend conferences pretty regularly as part of my work and I use those occasions to catch up with old friends, and make a couple of new ones. Interestingly the recently made friends (at last year's conference for example) remain good links and were a great welcome to see when I attended this year's event.

Theimpossiblegirl Tue 05-Apr-16 10:40:14

Whenever I go to a meeting with other schools, training or anything like that, I do my best to be interested, actively involved, charming and positive. You just never know when someone will appear on an interview panel in the future.

Chelsea26 Tue 05-Apr-16 12:20:54

I'm ok at networking now but it's taken a while. One of the best pieces of advice I could give would be Get There Early! It is tempting to sneak in late but then everybody else is chatting in groups and you have to butt in. If you are early, people will be on there own and if you're the first (although it feels awkward) the next people in will come and speak to you

ButterflyOfFreedom Tue 05-Apr-16 13:18:00

I'm pretty rubbish at networking!
I just don't like it - I don't feel comfortable, I think (presume) everyone is better skilled / qualified than me, and I'm quite shy so not great in large groups!
I know I lack confidence though for no real reason.
I wish I was better at it but know I'm good (great!) at other things so it's not a big deal for me.

Ntinyn Tue 05-Apr-16 13:37:49

Totally dread networking as can't stand small talk. But unfortunately have to suck it up. I grab a drink if available and try to be as charming and friendly as possible. You never know who you could meet and the impact they could have.

stealthsquiggle Tue 05-Apr-16 17:32:24

As PP have said, the first bit is the worst. If networking is at the end of a more structured event, I will try and find someone that I didn't previously know during the day so that you can go into the networking session together. If not, there is that dread moment of having to walk up and introduce yourself to someone and not retreat behind your phone as you desperately want to

navygravy Tue 05-Apr-16 18:01:54

It got easier for me when I realised that nobody in the room really loved networking and quite a few were probably quite uncomfortable. But we were all there for a good reason so let's get on with it.

Best advice is to ask lots of questions; memorise a few ice-breakers particular to your industry if it helps.

And don't drink too much of the bad white wine.

fridaykitten Tue 05-Apr-16 18:35:48

I get terrible anxiety at the thought of having to speak to people i dont know and think of things to say - once at an event though and speaking to people am fine, just the anxiety at the thought of it holds me back.

DillieDoily Wed 06-Apr-16 00:06:01

I hate networking as I'm quite shy so hate introducing myself to strangers. I also have a really bad memory for names and faces so am always scared in case I introduce myself to someone I've already met or I should know.

I find wine at a networking reception always helps though!

Lovewhereilive Wed 06-Apr-16 07:35:43

I don't struggle with it, just don't enjoy it and find it boring and a bit false. I use LinkedIn and find it quite useful.

StuckMelia Wed 06-Apr-16 09:32:50

I don't have talent for networking. I'm too shy for that. That's why I admire those who's very good with sales talk.

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