The more you know yourself, what you stand for, your values and skillset, and importantly how you can add value to others – the easier it will be to network! Having an Elevator pitch will definitely help, as you can effortlessly introduce yourself – practice makes perfect!

The purpose of professional networking is to gain information, increase your visibility and credibility in your field, and establish personal connections that will help you advance in your career, open new opportunities and even collaborate. Ideally, you will also want to enjoy it and have fun!

Remember, people like talking about themselves, so be interested and be interesting. Ask them about themselves! What prompted them to attend this event, is it their first time? Once you have built rapport you can ask them more specific questions around what they are relating to you – challenges/ successes/ latest trends….

When it comes to yourself, apart from the formal intro and elevator pitch, why not talk about something unique to you – maybe you have just returned from a trekking holiday or retreat, maybe you are into fitness/kick-boxing, or yoga, book clubs and concerts? Put it in the context of a work-related conversation, sprinkle with some (self-deprecating) humour,and look for ‘pegs’ or ‘hooks’ in the conversation where you have overlapping interests/ you know the same people/ you have gone through a similar career path…Synergy is always a must, in order to build rapport.

If you are coming from the point of ‘How can I help you?’ or ‘How can I add value?’ you will be achieving a couple of very positive things: by taking the emphasis off yourself and placing it on the other party, you can relax and talk about them; by offering value/help/introductions/insight, of course, in accordance with what they have just told you, you will be scoring great points in their books and they will likely offer the same/similar.

Networking is about win-win. Sometimes it is even win-win-win! I absolutely love connecting people and leaving them to it – often interesting and fruitful collaborations spring up. As a career coach I use my network to help my clients and that has been priceless – in terms of putting them in touch with industry experts, recruiters, leads where they can enquire about jobs, mentors and anyone else that can give them information, feedback, referral…Sometimes they come back to me and we jump on a joint project – win-win-win!

Look for contacts everywhere and all the time. How many times do we separate personal and professional contacts, only to discover that they may have a lot in common, and that by talking to someone at the gym – you can get all sorts of super useful information, whether it is about local events, someone they know in an industry you are interested in, or they could be your next financial advisor or mortgage broker, your guitar teacher or dog walker! Be curious, genuinely interested in learning about others. Nothing is as interesting as real-life stories, and that’s where you can get your case studies, your tips and tricks, as well as any referrals and recommendations.

Pay it forward. I totally believe in this principle and live by it in my everyday life, and not just in networking. I always try to help others, as much as possible, especially those who are on their journey a few steps behind me. I share freely and happily. I believe in abundance in every sense and if you do – you are not afraid to give! And it will come back to me, from someone else, totally unexpectedly, and open new doors, new opportunities, new adventures. It ALWAYS does.

Jelena Radonjic

Career Fulfilment Coach

To get a start on your journey to self-discovery get 10 Questions for Ultimate Career Clarity from Jelena and her consultancy WhatWork here: : https://whatwork.lpages.co/10-questions/

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