Talents - March 2016

Networking evenings, networking time, or just networking, we know it means relationships and contacts, but where does one start?

What is networking?

Networking is a way of building business relationships with a view to finding a job, customers or suppliers.

[KEY WORDS] sharing, trust and mutual support.

A network can start with those closest to you (family, friends, neighbours and so on), your work colleagues, people you meet at industry events or conferences, and then extend to social networks (LinkedIn and Viadéo to name but two).

There is just one rule to follow - it all relies on exchange. While your contacts may be useful to you, you should also in fact help them to achieve their own objectives.

[RECEIVED WISDOM] Networking is not only based on your CV and job (current or previous), it is also a very good way for employers or customers to see how you are in the public sphere, assess your character, and learn about your interests and essentially all about you.

Getting started

Your network enables you to not only maintain some knowledge of the business world, how it is changing and its outlook, but it also keeps you informed of the latest developments in your particular industry. Feel free to get involved in discussions and swapping information. This kind of activity can widen the field of possibilities for one of your contacts (or vice versa), demonstrate your interests to your contacts, and indeed position you as an expert.  An excellent way of getting noticed, if your appearances and contributions are both regular and relevant.

[RECEIVED WISDOM] Networking is not just about talking; listening to other people is a highly-valued quality. It’s also a good way of making contact, instead of plugging your CV, your company or your services.

So as not to be caught unawares, prepare your “introduction” beforehand, briefly explaining your career path or your current job, or indeed your company (and its services). You will consequently always be comfortable with introductions. Note that the first 5 minutes are vital - use them well.

Digital networking

Yes, digital networking is possible, still based on sharing, trust and mutual support; this type of networking occurs on social media, blogs, comments on articles and posts, etc.

Follow brands or people of personal and/or professional interest to you, follow media outlets (radio, press, blogs, etc.) and subscribe to newsletters in keeping with your business activities, your industry and your interests.

[KEY WORDS] Up-to-date digital profile, high-quality business-like photo, career and achievements filled in.

Do not hesitate to give your opinion, to share and circulate information, and to mention those you are following.

Offer your help when possible, and ask for help if needed (to pass an offer around, ask to be put in touch, help with a problem or getting in contact with someone). When you feel ready, you can also publish posts (items on LinkedIn, publication on Pulse, or even articles on your own blog). Note these reflect your image, and warrant close attention. Give preference to articles genuinely highlighting your expertise (personal or professional), even if this means publishing less often.

The importance of setting privacy boundaries cannot be stressed enough, so that your image and reputation consist only of information you want to be known (for which you can take responsibility vis-à-vis a current or future employer).

Preparing for networking

Dress appropriately, meaning wear something that looks good and is comfortable (feeling awkward or ill-at-ease all evening serves no purpose).

Looking at the list of attendees, available on the website or circulated specially, will enable you to target certain individuals and even investigate possible connections in advance (those attending and in your network).

Definitely do NOT forget your business cards (physical or digital). If the organisation offers an app, take as much care in registering your profile as you have in building your image on social networks. Only swap business cards with willing individuals who have shown an interest (forcing cards on people never leads anywhere!).

[RECEIVED WISDOM] Carrying a pen can always help someone, and helping someone creates a link.

Your smartphone: when contacts are successful, tell them you will be requesting a connection on LinkedIn (or other similar sites), so they are not taken aback when the request arrives.

[KEY WORDS] business-like, elegance, show moderation in eating, drinking, behaviour and speech.

If you are still wondering about how to network, ask yourself what you like or dislike when others approach you at a party or an event... that should help you find some answers.Préparer son moment de networking


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How to network when you are shy? 

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